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Dallas Houses Featured in Major Spanish Architectural Journal

August 16, 2006

A series of courtyard houses designed by Dallas architect Edward M. Baum, FAIA, is one of twenty-six projects worldwide included in AV Monograph 116: Formal Housing, the most recent publication of AV Monographs, the issue-oriented publication of the leading Spanish journal Arquitectura Viva. The Dallas houses, completed in late 2003, are one-storey structures of 1600 square feet organized around three small outdoor spaces. Designed as prototypes for infill urban lots, the dwellings are made from materials and equipment available in the building products market from places like Home Depot. Hence the title of the article on them: “Catalogue Courtyard Houses”.

In his introduction to “Formal Housing” Arquitectura Viva editor Luis Fernández-Galiano examines mainly European examples (among them projects by Calatrava, Hadid, Siza, and MVRDV) and concludes with three from Japan and two from the United States. He explains the title thus — ”... the majority of the projects presented in this issue stand out for their geometric rigor, their material sophistication and their compositional elegance.”

Fernández-Galiano, however, goes on to compare the European work with the American and Japanese projects. He notes a certain “fatigue” in European housing design, a disconnect from the dynamics of current urban and social conditions, an almost complete reliance on the visual and constructional qualities in the buildings themselves. He sums up his critique thus:

“Understood in somewhat more generous terms architecture incorporates as much the technological inventiveness and skill in distribution that characterizes the American context as the social choreographies and effectiveness in production that are distinctive features of the Asian model, and both pairs of coordinates converge in the projects that close the issue, where the construction with components is placed at the service of the suburbanization of Texas and California, and where the versatile exactness of the mixed-use programs orchestrates the hyper-urban density of Tokyo: two extreme examples that perhaps contain a useful lesson for this equidistant and exhausted Europe.”

Baum’s Prototype Infill Housing has been published widely in the U.S. and abroad. Besides the current AV Monograph, the project is documented in Dwell Magazine, Ottagono, Wood Design Awards 2005, Texas Architect, and in Architectural Record’s Building Types Study (web).

In addition to his design practice in Dallas, Baum is professor of architecture at University of Texas at Arlington, where he served as dean of the School of Architecture from 1987 until 1999.

Ed Baum