Monday, August 2, 2010

The Not So Big Garage

One of my friends, Jim, sent me a funny video . I will let it speak for itself.

Watching the clip amused me on so many levels. First, there is the elderly gent (he could be my dad) slowly and deliberately setting the scene. The ridiculously narrow garage door in the small townhouse facade and the compact car. He has to take his bike out (a drop handlebars 10-speed which I can't quit imagine he rides) to fit the car in. Last, but not least, he has the fold the mirror in. The narration is in Dutch, and I'm waiting to see the license plate and there it is: the oldtimer is a countryman, I knew it.

Funny indeed, but the clip made me think, too. A few years ago, a local (Twin Cities) architect, Sarah Susanka, wrote a very successful book: The Not So Big House. The idea sounded very appealing to me since many of our acquaintances lived in suburban palaces while we were in a 1300 sqft 1 1/2 story. I took a peep into the book at our public library and thought immediately that the house Ms. Susanka was presenting seemed plenty big to me, i.e. 2000+ sqft. and luxuriously appointed.

What bothered me was that the premise of a not so big house should that of affordability and simplicity. Yet, the photographs in th book reminded me of the features and ads in Minnesota Monthly's Midwest Home, over the top luxury well out of reach of a middle class family.

The clip made me also think of one picture in a slide show I had seen in 1977 or so. Jacob Holdt, a Danish hippie had documented American lower class squalor, racism and upper class opulence by being a participant observer in many different milieus. The picture in question was that of a three-car garage, juxtaposed with the poverty of an apartment in the projects.

These are the reasons for why I found this clip so good, this old guy so matter-of-factly driving his car into a garage that anyone on this side of the Atlantic would have a hard time parking two bicycles in.

After ranting about American garage excesses I have to admit that I am not immune to grandiose visions of palatial automobile abodes. I am currently constructing my own gigantic garage which besides providing shelter for our cars will house my workshop. My family is already looking forward to me permanently moving from the house to the garage.
View from street. Not exactly "Not So Big" ... For pictures of entire garage project, see this Facebook Album

1 comment:

  1. I haven't watched the clip yet but will do later. I also prefer smaller spaces. Although I live in the suburbs right now I look forward to down sizing when we can at least break even.