How to Live the Good Life in the
April 18, 2010
OK, rich guys: I know that you aren't really going for this Traditional
"Look, I am THE MAN. Get it? I'm not going to live in some
800sf jail cell just because some Internet dweeb calls it the
"Plus, after last year's big loss, it might be hard to convince the
Board of Directors that they
should pay me my $30 million
so I can be maintained In the Manner To Which I've Become Accustomed,
if I get accustomed to a 800sf apartment. You can only get away with
that folksy-guy stuff when you own the damn company, like Sam Walton
and his beat-up old pickup, or Warren Buffett at Borat's Steakhouse."
"Besides, even if I did go for it, my wife would leave me and
take the kids. That could be unpleasant."
Three bedroom, 822sf apartment.
I understand completely. Up until now, I've been focusing mostly on the
middle- and not-quite-middle-class -- which is to say, about 98% of the
population. (The 98th percentile is a household income of about
$230,000 per year, which is "upper middle class.") Most people need
shelter that most people can afford, without a lifetime of debt
slavery. First things first. But if you can afford something special --
and pay cash for it -- then why not? (Mortgages are for Nick Cage and
other suckers.) Things
being what they are, the habits of the wealthy tend to set the standard
for everyone. If the top 0.1% are dreaming of 20,000sf in
the 'burbs, then so will everyone else. I want to get you guys on my
side. So, let's spend today looking
at how to live The Good Life in the Traditional City.
1) The Greenwich Village Brownstone.
Doesn't look too fancy from the outside, but ...
... nice on the inside. These can easily be 3,000-4,000+sf.
Luxe enough for you?
The only real problem with the Greenwich
Village Brownstone is that the streets are too wide, and that
hypertrophic front stair (the natural consequence of trying to put a
buffer between the house and the Hypertrophic street).
See what I mean? Obviously too wide (West 19th Street.)
This is essentially the same as the
Greenwich Village Brownstone, but in an apartment format. The building
height is typically 3-5 stories, maybe 7 stories on the tall side.
The interiors are basically the same as the Greenwich Village
Note the street width here compared to West 19th street. Kinda
different, no? This is a properly sized pedestrian street.
3) The Highrise Apartment. You
know this one. Lots of glass, somewhere
high above New York (or Singapore or Moscow or Miami or wherever).
4) The Courtyard House. You
don't see this in the U.S. much, but it is common elsewhere. This is an
urban house that surrounds a central courtyard of some sort.
This actually comes from an article from an Architectural Digest story
"Simply Sustainable: a 45th Floor Aerie on the Upper West Side Goes
Green." Which fits right into our Eco-Metropolis theme.
Giselle is modeling the proper use of the High Rise Apartment.
You can live in the Eco-Metropolis and not be a granola girl.
Large courtyard, Marrakesh, Morocco.
This courtyard has been enclosed, but normally it is open to the sky.
Another courtyard in Marrakesh. A courtyard is a fine place to
introduce some greenery.
Courtyard in Florence.
Another courtyard in Florence. Obviously, you can make a very, very
large courtyard house. For those of you who just need
50,000+ square feet.
You can also make the apartment equivalent of the Courtyard House. Then
you would have a bunch of apartments surrounding a courtyard. This is a
good format for hotels too, and even offices, hospitals, and
Florence. This gives an idea of how the Courtyard House fits into the
Courtyard of the Frick Museum, New York. This was originally a private
residence, and the courtyard was originally open-air.
Courtyard of the Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Modeled after an ancient
Greek estate. You can go as big as you wanna go.
Courtyard house in China. Nice!
I like all the wood in China.
Lots of lovely courtyard examples in China.
A compact Chinese courtyard. Have some tea?
Demonstrating the proper use of the Chinese courtyard.
"Do you think I'm going to dress like this and then sit on your plastic
5) The Venetian Palazzo.
Big enough for ya?
I'd say we're looking at around 20,000 square feet here, just as a
It ain't no crummy McMansion.
"What do you mean you 'got it at Home Depot'? Are you insane?"
6) The 18th Century Paris Apartment.
Let's go to the party with Louis XIV!
Actually, this is no different than the Venetian Palazzo (which itself
is a scaled-up version of the Greenwich Village Brownstone). We just do
without the canals, and in a bigger city, and with a bit of French
These sorts of buildings, which are everywhere in Paris, often date
from before the Industrial Revolution. The lords and ladies of the
lived here. And
boy did they have a good time.
The interiors are beyond opulent.
All of these photos represent 18th century style.
I believe the cover of this loveseat was hand-embroidered by Marie
Antoinette, the Queen of France.
Are you still fantasizing about your manor in the country? The lords
and ladies of France left their country manors for apartments like
these. Much better parties in Paris.
The embroiderer herself, as played by Kirsten Dunst.
"Versailles Shmersailles. Let's go to Paris."
7) The Kyoto House. This isn't
really any different than the Greenwich Village Brownstone, just a
different aesthetic tradition. Often comes with a courtyard. The point
is that the basic format (multi-story townhouse, entrance right on the
street, no green space, maybe a small yard or courtyard) can take the
form of many different architectural styles. Just like clothing. When
you get the basics right (two sleeves, hole for your head), you can
have fun with the decorative bits.
8) The French Post-n-Beamer.
This is another version of the basic Greenwich Village Brownstone
format, but again with a different architectural style. A little more
rustic, maybe appropriate for smaller villages and towns.
All of these styles fit right into the Traditional City, like a cherry
on top of a hot fudge sundae. (We'll talk a little more later about how
to integrate the High Rise Apartment, which is not a traditional
Traditional City format, into the Traditional City.)
Have fun with it.
* * *
This 26 gigapixel panorama of Paris is a good place to get a feel of
what a Traditional City feels like in its entirety. Be sure to zoom in
for super detail! This is a large city, and not one just for tourists.
Paris is a center for business, banking, government, media, fashion,
and pretty much everything else that gets done in France. However, note
that there are very few hypertrophic high-rise type buildings in Paris.
It's not necessary.
I think Paris could use some improvements. There is a little too much
traffic. I'd like to see some of the smaller streets have their
sidewalks removed, making them pedestrian streets. Plus, it doesn't
quite have the Asian-style sense of activity. Nevertheless, the city is
a great success.
Other comments in this series:
Farms 2: How Many Acres Can Sustain
With Little Teeny Farms
It All Together
2010: Let's Take a Trip to New York 2: The Bad and the Ugly
24, 2010: Let's Take a Trip to New York City
2010: We Could All Be Wizards
2009: What a Real Train System Looks Like
2009: Life Without Cars: 2009 Edition
2009: What Comes After Heroic Materialism?
2009: Let's Kick Around Carfree.com
November 8, 2009: The Future Stinks
2009: Let's Take Another Trip to Venice
2009: Place and Non-Place
2009: Let's Take a Trip to Barcelona
September 20, 2009: The Problem of Scarcity 2: It's All In Your Head
September 13, 2009: The Problem of Scarcity
July 26, 2009:
Let's Take a Trip to an American Village 3: How the Suburbs Came to Be
July 19, 2009:
Let's Take a Trip to an American Village 2: Downtown
July 12, 2009:
Let's Take a Trip to an American Village
May 3, 2009: A
April 19, 2009: Let's Kick Around the "Sustainability" Types
March 3, 2009:
Let's Visit Some More Villages
2009: Let's Take a Trip to the French Village
2009: Let's Take a Trip to the English Village
Comex (scroll down)
January 4, 2009: Currency Management for Little Countries (scroll
Effects (scroll down)
August 10, 2008: Visions of Future Cities
2007: Let's Take a Trip to Tokyo
2007: Let's Take a Trip to Venice
July 9, 2007:
No Growth Economics