Archinect - AEH-words 2014-04-19T03:37:38-04:00 Zemanek's third Alfonso E. Hernandez 2011-11-02T21:35:07-04:00 >2011-11-24T09:05:52-05:00 <p> <img alt="" src="" title="">While in Houston, a few days ago I visited Prof. John Zemanek in his new house (his 3rd) in Montrose. To be honest, I had heard a lot about his new endeavor, specially around the Hines College of Architecture premises, where he has taught for over 40 years. It has been a concept which he had developed over several years, after deciding that his 2nd house -the Peden house- was too big for him (although in an <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">interview</a> back in 2008, he had confessed to Carlos Jimenez that this was just an excuse, the real reason is that he <em>needed</em> to build).</p> <p> On approach, the house looks like a marriage between a west Texas dogtrot and a Japanese vernacular house entangled in a torrid <em>menage a trois</em> with a makeshift solar farm. The elongated, shallow volume of the house is flanked on the east side by a candid support structure for photovoltaic panels that also acts as a semi-porch of sorts. By choice, he kept the programmatic organization of the house linear and simple, with one volume but clear dis...</p> The Astrodome's bones Alfonso E. Hernandez 2011-10-20T13:04:26-04:00 >2011-11-24T09:05:52-05:00 <p> <img alt="" src="" title=""><strong>The case for the useless 'dome</strong></p> <p> Roland Barthes once argued that the beauty of the Eiffel Tower lies indeed in its own uselessness. What created the icon was the inability to make an appropriate use out of what originally was the entrance to the World Fair in 1889 and such inability allowed common people to apply their own significance, their own stories and their own dreams to it. Its skinless emptiness denotes no pragmatic function, other than being now the symbol of Paris, the symbol of travel worldwide and the most recognizable structure in history.</p> <p> Urban icons are always a tricky thing= albeit they define a sense of place that cannot be replicated anywhere else, they get their status by the interaction with the locals and almost always by accident. It is very unlikely that the Eiffel Tower would have become that iconic if Gustav Eiffel had started to build one in every city of Europe. Or if Parisians hadn&rsquo;t been allowed in to interact with it= by taking pictures of it from ...</p>