...is a word tossed around with little understanding of the definition of various styles and little agreement on the meaning of style itself. One person may describe a building as traditional. Another person will look at the same building and describe it as Tudor. A third may call it French country. What is going on here? Are we not seeing the same thing when we look at an object?
Style is a fluid concept. A thing (a house, a mass- produced product, or any object of design) may be created in the manner of a particular epoch or person. We, as a civilization, have decided to label these various styles as Tudor, French-country, modern, craftsman, classical, Wrightian, etc. The problem is that the icons of these styles and the materials, shapes, and details used in these styles overlap. Does a dormer belong to the Tudor style? Or to French-country? Obviously, it belongs to either or neither. A dormer is just an element of structure.
But architecture is not like fashion design, where styles go in and out with the seasons. Works of architecture — from the homes in which we live to the buildings in which we work to the monuments that represent our society — have a less frivolous purpose and more enduring message. Perhaps it is more important that a house (or any building) have architecture that is internally consistent, that flows, that hangs together as a work of art. Let’s call this a non-denominational approach to design. What kind of crazy concept is this? Buildings without a style? Yes: buildings without a style that still possess style.
Dormers: Friderick Koch, Pearson Scott Foresman, Pearson Scott Foresman
Style Examples: Rama, Waugsberg, Didier B.
Exteriors: Architecture by Knorr, photo R. Munger
Interiors: Architecture by Knorr, photo R. Munger