For architects and future architects

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: For architects and future architects
By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, September 09, 2004 - 02:31 pm: Edit

I found this article very moving. Below is an excerpt:

A house built with steel
To some, it's an eyesore, but to its architect/owners, it's home -- and a beacon of the future

By Linda Matchan, Globe Staff | September 9, 2004

CAMBRIDGE -- It's the smallest home on the block, and from the outside, at least, you can make a strong case for saying it's the strangest. The house at 15 Clifton St. in North Cambridge is long and narrow, like a Vermont covered bridge, and has only one small window in the front and not a single window on either side. Where the roofing and siding should be is a continuous blanket of rusty corrugated steel. The building seems to be dripping rust. It looks like an abandoned warehouse, or a barn gone wrong. "People have complained to the city about it," said Chaewon Kim, who lives in it with her husband, Beat Schenk. But the interior of this house tells a different story.

Kim and Schenk are architects who bought the building in 2002 because it was the least expensive house in Cambridge on the market at the time. With little construction experience, they redesigned and rebuilt it with their own hands, $50,000, and home-improvement books from Home Depot.

Together, they created a remarkable, uncommon, Zen-like home -- abstract and yet so simple that it evokes a Monopoly game piece. It is flooded with light from the rear of the house, which is a wall of glass, and it is constructed with materials -- a long, plastic cutting board as a kitchen countertop, a sheet of polycarbonate for a bedroom wall -- chosen primarily because they were affordable.

But the story of this house is more than a story about architecture, a resourceful couple, and a prudent do-it-yourself construction project. It's also a story of creativity, enterprise, focus, and inspiration that gave Chaewon Kim the will to survive breast cancer, diagnosed three years ago when she was only 26 and her prospects were very dim.

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