At Fairview Custom Homes, we’ve seen a shifting trend toward contemporary design preferences with our customers, so I decided to have a discussion with a top local architect to figure out what this trend is all about! Scott Crichton of Architecture 224 is a leading designer of custom homes in Upstate SC and contemporary design is his specialty. Here are some recent photos of his work at one of our job sites:
What are the key components/features of Contemporary design style?
For my work, I tend to push openness and simplicity as key design values. Openness both with respect to interior spatial qualities as well as transparency between interior and exterior spaces. Architecture 224 houses tend to have an unusual amount of glass! Simplicity dovetails nicely with the openness in that the houses tend to be less ornamental, less busy. Large expanses of glass allow the site to become the artwork for the home, and the house becomes a vessel to enjoy the natural setting, rather than one intended to dominate or replace it.
What are the challenges or benefits/cost savings of Contemporary?
Typically, the biggest challenge is taking a project through a review board process. The majority of houses by Architecture 224 are in gated communities with stringent design guidelines, and typically, these guidelines are geared toward traditional design. The result is often a back and forth exchange with review boards convincing them of the appropriateness of a given design. It can be a difficult process, but the review boards are there for a good reason—to protect the community’s aesthetic consistency.
How long have you been working with Contemporary?
I have been working with Contemporary since the day I laid pencil to trace paper in architecture school. Growing up in a small mining town in Nova Scotia taught me the values of thrift, simplicity, and community, and these are values that I took up in school. My first school project was a fishing shed. It was good, not great. But the values that steered the design of that shed are largely the same that guide my work today.
What appeals to you most about Contemporary?
I think mostly it’s the intersection of aesthetic and cultural values. I prefer houses that reflect the era of their construction, rather than those intended to look old the day they are completed. I admire a well-crafted building that relies on proportion, scale, and organization over ornament and decoration. Houses that harmoniously engage the site, that light up in different ways as the sun passes over them and are perfect vessels for their inhabitants—for me, that’s what makes for great architecture.
Where does Greenville and upstate SC fit in the trend toward Contemporary?
Well, that is a tough question. Certainly, Greenville is not an area known to be pushing the boundaries of contemporary design. For the most part, the market has been oriented toward traditional design. But things are on the upswing! That is the hope for Architecture 224—as demand for contemporary houses grows, the firm will become a leader in the Upstate providing thoughtful solutions that feature openness and simplicity. And I look forward to teaming with Fairview Custom Homes on many more houses of that character!
Where is Contemporary most popular?
No question that modern architecture is most prevalent in the centers of fashion—big cities like New York, Los Angeles, or closer to home, Atlanta. But I enjoy practicing architecture outside of these centers of fashion—big cities are too big for me. I like Greenville.
Where can people see Contemporary in upstate SC?
There are lots of places to see it, some easy to find downtown, some in more remote parts of the Upstate. Contemporary design has a century-long lineage with many examples in the Upstate. City Hall, the Peace Center Addition, the Liberty Bridge, the architecture school at Clemson are just a few institutional examples. Examples of contemporary houses are a bit trickier to find, though they are out there. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broad margin is a good place to start. There are a number of mid-century modern houses in the city and surrounding areas as well. Hopefully, there will be more contemporary houses to come!
We appreciated Scott taking the time to speak with us about contemporary design. If you are looking for a custom home builder or interested in a home renovation services, we invite you to contact us to start a conversation about your dream home ideas.