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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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‘6 Houses’ finds home at A&M

Valerie Gunchick

On the second floor of Langford A, Kevin Altar’s residential designs will be displayed until January 2016. 

With his sleek and minimalist design, University of Texas professor and partner at Alterstudio Architecture LLP Kevin Alter puts functionality first in his homes.
This ideology carries over into “6 Houses,” an exhibit located in the Wright Gallery in the Langford Architecture Center. The exhibit features the designs of six single-family homes through a series of photographs, drawings, models and construction documents.
Alter said his exhibit shows houses that don’t force themselves to seem stylish.
“In some ways, it’s meant as a kind of counter-proposal to much of what happens and is published in architecture today, which I would argue is the easily consumable image, like one crazy shape,” Alter said. “It’s what’s promoted because it’s easy to consume and easy to disperse, as opposed to something that is more complex and rich in ways that aren’t just about the shape.”
Senior lecturer Marcel Erminy said unique architectural work is being replaced by books of floor plans that are designed to work in all spaces.
“These six [houses] are much better than any of those,” Erminy said. “[They] have a very particular way to define their position in the site. It’s a completely different approach to architecture.”
Assistant professor of architecture Ahmed Ali said Alter works with the surrounding trees and landscape when designing houses.
“When people call him and tell him how beautiful the house is, how they enjoy it, they all talk about nature,” Ali said.
Alter said he prefers to emphasize function rather than force his own ideas and style upon the contracted houses.
“Sometimes function [is compromised] for something that’s more stylish,” Alter said. “If you coated your jeans [in] some kind of polymer, they’d never have to be washed, but they would be uncomfortable and it probably wouldn’t look nice. People build buildings like that too. They use tile floors and crappy materials just so they don’t show dirt.”
For Alter, architects make a huge difference in the enjoyment and satisfaction a person gets out of his or her home.
“There are consequences that an architect might not know,” Alter said. “But when you’re living in the house, you’ll know. That’s one of the great dilemmas for architects. Living in a well-designed space rapidly transforms who you are. Many of my clients haven’t lived in architecture, and are overwhelmed afterward.”
Despite the Wright Gallery’s placement in the architecture building, “6 Houses” is actually the first architecture exhibit to be displayed there.
“Architecture doesn’t travel well,” Alter said. “Some things travel very well — photographs and books. While a photo might be compelling, it’s hard to understand the model of a whole building, and so the exhibit was set up so that you see photographs, and then you see construction drawings, and you see models.”

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