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The real estate website Zillow sez: “this contemporary home has a European flare with a Manhattan feel. Perfect for entertaining….” Actually, I’d say it has a Soviet flare with a recycling bin feel, perfect for opening a large vein in a warm tub. It’s in a Hudson Valley suburb of New York City. Lists for $499,000. Of course, a major campaign of the Modernists’ 100-Year War on Sensibility is its determination to shit-can all design gestures that might convey charm or grace-notes in our built world. Here, they have succeeded maximally. Épater les bourgeois is still the password to glory among the revolutionary Puritans who rule architecture, and especially in the universities where they train recruits to the cause. Who can’t love that darling gas meter on the street-side elevation — with its cunning little yellow protective bollard! By the way, the house on the right is equally awful, but accomplishes it differently: reducing all the traditional exterior decor — fence, shutters, carriage lamps — to cheap cartoons. Go ahead and weep for America, a country that no longer has any idea how to get it right. Thanks to JS White for the nomination.

About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.

12 Responses to “May 2019” Subscribe

  1. JCalvertNUK May 3, 2019 at 5:52 pm #

    It’s a double-storey granny-annexe. Entry is via the laundry.

  2. tucsonspur May 4, 2019 at 2:18 am #

    “Actually I say it has a Soviet flare with a recycling bin feel, perfect for opening a large vein in a warm tub.” Great stuff. Sharp as a razor.

    Also looks like it could be used in another sequel to the movie “Hostel”.

    The front has all the air of a dreary back while the back is more than likely to be just a greater affront.

    No, absolutely not the house in ‘What Lies Beneath”, but this one begs, no, demands the question. Hmmm. I wonder what that stairway climbs to? Probably not heaven.

    The imbalance is keen and the curb appeal will make you squeal. That Manhattan feel is Harlem before gentrification.

    A great canvas for some gruesome graffiti, and a good candidate for ‘this cold house’.

    • GreenAlba May 13, 2019 at 10:00 am #


      You can see the back here (and the sides!!):

      I just put the description in Google and up it popped. So you can see the inside too 🙂 .

      It looks as if the people in the house next door sold part of their garden?

      I haven’t scraped my jaw off the floor yet at the price.

      They’ve got a living room on the decking at the back. What is that – plastic wickerwork?

      • tucsonspur May 14, 2019 at 4:55 am #

        Thank you for that! The back surprised me a bit. And that staircase in front looks better from the side.

        Looked like a nice tub and shower. Maybe if it was near the river and had a boat dock along with a small yacht to take me into Trump town I’d consider it!

  3. Chris at Fernglade Farm May 4, 2019 at 4:32 am #

    Hi Jim,

    It’s not good. Down here we have some government housing provided for the needy, and sorry to say there are similarities with this fine example: 60 Condell Street Fitzroy Melbourne, appears to be of a better quality build but of similar design aesthetics.

    Interestingly, I have constructed buildings using fibro-cement sheeting (which I’m guessing is what is used here – unless of course it was plywood sheeting? Not sure really and am just guessing) and I was surprised that no attempt was made to join the sheets other than the thin strips covering the joins – or even render the wall which might provide a more contemporary finish. Also I rarely see images of dwellings from your part of the world, but I noticed that with the house next door, the spacings between cladding boards is a fine replica of the sort of look that using corrugated steel sheeting would produce. Timber weatherboards down here are generally of a deeper profile and to my eye it provides a more pleasing result.

    Summers here can be quite hot accompanied by extreme levels of UV so those walls would bake the inside of the house if that design were attempted down here. And the second story would be like an oven due to the chimney effect. Surely you’ve heard of veranda’s in your country? They serve to shade the external walls from the hot summer sun.

    I feel that it is always nice to finish on a positive note, and hopefully such a dwelling might provide for a lot of useful materials should it ever come to a salvage economy. 😉



  4. Peter VE May 6, 2019 at 9:44 am #

    It does have the option of painting a nice facade on all that big white canvas.
    In about 10 years, many of the joints between those panels will have failed, allowing wind driven rain into the wall. That’s usually not a good thing….
    That will be the time when the home(?) owner will try to sue the developer, who will be found to be long out of business. They will then have to strip the siding, and reside with a time proven method (ie: not dryvit™). With any luck, they will also add an eave at the gable, and a porch roof over the entry.

  5. lateStarter May 6, 2019 at 2:48 pm #

    It is actually so bad, I have to keep coming back for another look. I can only imagine the poor schmuck coming back from his soul-crushing job at the end of the day pulling into the driveway of his castle. He probably sits there for a moment, dreading to go inside. Good that he stopped on the way home and picked up another bottle of Jack Daniels.

  6. bymitch May 6, 2019 at 5:49 pm #

    Real estate agents get tied up in their word jumbles, it should read:

    “European has a contemporary feel, with a Manhattan [or two].
    This entertaining home, perfect for a flare”

  7. AKlein May 9, 2019 at 9:25 pm #

    I detect something of a competition going on here. The proud owner of this, er, structure has attempted to outdo his neighbors in hideousness. Seems that he has truly won the gold. This is really quite an achievement since the building to the right is certainly a worthy contender for an Eyesore of the Month award.

  8. Nightowl May 14, 2019 at 4:20 am #

    They aren’t wrong though. This is how nearly every house looks in most German “Neubausiedlungen.”

    The quality of the German houses is better, and the designs more refined, but this is the kind of stuff they are buliding all over Germany at the moment.

    Prices are similar, too, if you are within 25 km of a big city.

  9. bymitch May 14, 2019 at 4:28 pm #

    I don’t think it helps its case that this sort of thing is becoming normalised across the globe.
    I can show you stuff just as bad in new housing estates here in NZ and for similar prices, but I don’t want to be accused of inciting depression.
    Quality is a measure of fit for purpose, it also has a price dimension.
    You get what you pay for.
    Design has parameters and if its all about making patterns out of windows, doors and cladding on a facade, and internal decoration to the latest trends, then refinement sits in a very narrow band.
    It doesn’t make up for any lack of any urban design initiative either.

  10. Laura Louzader May 31, 2019 at 3:21 pm #

    I’d rather live in any abandoned Chicago brick 2- flat, than live in this. We have so much beautiful old housing stock in all our older cities, good masonry shells that can be bought for almost nothing, and built out into decent, affordable housing for a fraction the cost of building the featured fright. Why are we letting these beautiful old structures deteriorate and finally collapse while paying major money for garbage like this dumpster bin of a house?

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