On a recent visit to Louisiana, I picked up a beautiful book, gorgeously researched, called a Pattern Book of New Orleans Architecture by Roulhac B. Toledano.

These types of books are appearing in historic towns, planned towns & destroyed towns, like those along the gulf coast.
What a great resource.  Some are using them as a compulsory catalog of what is acceptable in terms of appearance.

What I like is the documentation.  Ideally, these are a SPRINGBOARD for locally & regionally appropriate architecture. 

But What if There's No Pattern?

For years I’ve sporadically been trying to put together my own collection of recurring patterns for the Salt Lake City area. 

We’re much too cold for adobe, rammed earth and the other various techniques of the Southwest desert.  We’re not temperate or proximate enough to connect to California.  We’re not cowboy like Colorado & Wyoming.  Salt Lake City is rather a rural-urban city... small for a city, large for a town, and surrounded by farms & national parks.

We don’t even have examples* of indigenous architecture to study.  And finally, European building types had very little time to adapt to the climate before being steamrolled by the industrial age.  

In 1847, pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley.  It was all log cabins for awhile, New England transplants, faux bois and all other types of faux this and that.  And then there were Sears catalogs and California bungalows and a tiny bit of early modernism.  Not one of these were designed for the climate of Salt Lake City. 

Salt Lake City, Utah.  Image courtesy of  Dougtone

Coming Up With A Formula

  1. We have hot summers, with many days in the 100s.  
  2. We have long, cold winters, bottoming out in January and February.  In all fairness, the Great Salt Lake produces a bit of the lake effect for the city, taking the edge off of the coldest weather. And we're not talking Minnesota cold or Alaska cold.  But there are a good two months when I don't want to venture outside.
  3. Late springs mean we can’t plant until after Mother’s Day. 
  4. Springs & autumns often seem more like bipolar summer & winter days rather than actually mild.  
  5. The high elevation means strong sunshine.  
  6. There is little precipitation, resulting in semi-arid and steppe climates; and, a culture bent on producing a desert blossoming as a rose, no matter how much water it takes.  Luckily, the lake helps again for the immediate area, increasing precipitation in Salt Lake City by 10% over surrounding areas.
  7. The shape of the valley makes us particularly susceptible to inversion cloud cover, which traps pollution & cold air in the valley.  The EPA has giving us a rating of F for this.  Pollution is the only thing we can potentially change, but the conservative political climate makes this an uphill battle.** 
  8. The Koppen climate classification for Salt Lake City is Dsa.  "D" stands for continental/microthermal climate.  "S" indicates dry summers; "A" indicates hot summers.  Classifications to the east of Salt Lake City is Dsb.  Dfa & Dfb areas follow the mountain range, and Bsk (steppe climate) is typical for much of Southern Utah.
So how do you create a pattern of what’s been appropriate here when there is no history, only an analysis of science?  

A View of Salt Lake City, Utah, from the Peak of Snowbird Ski Resort.  Image courtesy of vxla.

Salt Lake City, July 2011. Image courtesy of Garrett.

Other Areas with Koppen Dsa Classification

I thought I might be able to cheat a bit and find other Dsa locations with a more lengthy & documented architectural history to glean from.  

Koppen World Map with various Continental climates (hot summer).  Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In the U.S., there's Boise, Lewiston & Moscow, Idaho and Baker City, Oregon. Um, thanks?

In the Middle East, there are quite a few more options.  I'm just barely beginning to search their architectural histories out:

  • Turkey/Anatolia: Muş, Konya, Ankara, Malatya, Elazip, Diyarbakir, Silvan,  Van
  • Iran:  Lake Urmia Region, Tabriz
  • Uzbekistan: Samarkand, Jizzakh, Tashkent, Angren, Chust
  • KazakhstanGerasimovka
  • KyrgyzstanOsh, Uzgen, Bishkek, Tokmok
  • TajikistanKulob, Badakhshan National Park
  • ChinaKashgar (in Western China, just over the border from Kyrgyzstan)
  • Jammu/KashmirKargil
  • PakistanShandur-Handrap National Park, north of Islamabad
  • AfghanistanFayzabad, north of Kabul
13th century Kandovan Village (60km south of Tabriz) at the foot of Kuh-e (Mount) Sahand.
It is in the Lake Urmia region, East Azerbaijan Province, Iran.
 Lake Urmia is one of only a few major hypersaline lakes in the world, with the Great Salt Lake and the Dead Sea.
Image courtesy of Zenith210 via Wikimedia.

Method in the Madness

What do you think about this kind of method?  Remember, I'm not looking for a style, but a climatic response.


*Okay, there's one.  There has been an archaeological discovery of a Fremont Era (~1000 years ago) below-grade pithouse near Price, Utah.  You can see a reconstruction of it at the Natural History Museum there.
**As an independent myself, I’ve never understood how clean air is a partisan issue!

No comments:

Post a Comment


It's somewhat ambiguous, but the definition of affordability has to be related to income, right? Income as well as other debt & ob...