The lasting beauty of a house resides, in large part, in the expressiveness of its materials. The honesty of its textures and its natural imperfections are an authentic treasure that gets better with time.
Like a patina that develops over copper, which starts shiny and gradually dulls, then darkens with each passing rain -- and eventually oxidizes into a brilliant green, each house goes through a life cycle. The love for material both new and old is what gives a house its soul.
When a design is pure and clean, the simplest of gestures and manipulations are what gives a design its beauty. It might be the shape of a sharp geometry, the clever positioning of a window, the color of a particular surface in natural light or the repetition of a pattern that provides the desired look.
Regardless of style, whether considering a Neoclassical villa or a contemporary urban building, the considerations of appropriate and lasting materials is the same. The bottom line is better materials make for better buildings.
Commission an architect to make plans for a house, for example, and the computer-aided drawings can be done relatively quickly. Today it seems any building can be built much quicker than before in part because of advancements in construction techniques and new materials. Building materials have gone through a metamorphosis, and brackets and beams that once were carved by hand are now extruded by machinery and ready for installation in a matter of minutes.
Drive by any shopping plaza or city center and you will see plenty of new buildings that hearken to an architecture of a previous time, some of which may be familiar to your hometown or another architecture that is altogether different. The buildings get done in record time, yet a few years will pass and you see scaffolding around them because of needed maintenance.
Upon closer inspection, some of the architectural details you thought were stone or wood, show cracks and peeling paint that reveal what lies underneath, which is some form of molded Styrofoam or plastic.
How are we to create architecture that lasts and contributes to our history when, in reality, buildings are nothing but paper-thin structures -- not unlike a stage set, which gives the feeling of somewhere or some city you like -- but not built to withstand a decade, and often not a strong storm?
Take, for example, an old and neglected city like Havana, Cuba. Do you think any of its now decaying structures would have survived, if less than the best and appropriate materials of the time had been used?
Understanding that most decisions in building today are based on budgets, it is perhaps best to advocate building smaller but with better and time-tested materials. Sometimes this is a hard concept for the architect, interior designer or builder to sell the clients, but one that is ultimately in the best interest of the client and everyone involved, including future owners.
Our cities depend on design professionals to advocate for their future -- to keep in mind a time when we will no longer be here.
• Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Florida.
© 2017, Creators Syndicate