This question was posed to TMS Architects by one of loyal “correspondents” who has followed our work for several years. His question, in its entirety went as follows:

> “If you don’t mind me asking, this is kind of an open-ended question, but I’ve been thinking about it lately since I’m seeing the home design/engineering process first hand.

>> In short, what do you see in the future of home design? Not in terms of software, but in terms of overall design trends?

>> It’s been fun viewing and studying your designs for all this time and seeing how your designs progress as the months and years pass! I’m sure you’ve seen so many trends that have come and gone, but overall, I think traditional design is here to stay, albeit with different design trends.

>> I just hope there are people in my generation that will be able to design such wonderful homes since you probably won’t be designing forever.”

Jason Bailey, AIA, TMS Project Architect, provided a thoughtful answer to this thought-provoking question that is certainly worth sharing. If anyone has other answers to this question, we would love to publish them as well…just pass them along to us!

Accepting change in architecture comes slowly.  Designing a unique looking building doesn’t always result in creating a new style, but rather a fad.  Fads will come and go, but traditionalism will last for years to come.  One must remember the principals of traditional style are based largely on climate and will respond to the regional needs accordingly.  For example, what is traditional in Arizona is different from what is traditional in Maine, so a stucco ranch home with a clay tile roof is still traditional, but just not on the coast of Massachusetts.  However, no matter where you design a home it must respond to the climate to be successful. 

Recent climate change has altered how architects approach building design and radical modifications are slowly making their way into regions most affected by the environment.  I suppose you could label these modifications, “modern”, but they are simply reactionary decisions to combat future natural disasters.  For example, traditional New England homes built along coastlines are being raised to prevent flood damage from the next hurricane or strong tidal surge event.  These protective and precautionary redesigns begin to alter how we normally detail a “traditional” home, but as more home owners seek to protect their valuable assets from natural disasters, we may see in time these alterations become the normal traditional style. 

Another area that influences home style is today’s family social structure.  Family structure that existed 100 years ago has completely changed to the one we know today and with it comes a new way we use the spaces inside and outside our homes.  While the outside of a traditional cape home may remain relatively the same, the floor plan layout will likely be different than those even 50 years ago.  An open concept layout responds best to today’s modern lifestyle.  The reason for this?  Technology!  Today’s traditional home is already relatively modern, but it’s from elements often never seen or realized by the homeowner. Not since electricity and the TV replaced the need for a fireplace as the “center meeting place of the home”, has the home gone through such a radical reinvention of family interaction as the introduction of computers, smartphones, tablets and smart flat screen TVs.  Architects are designing now for smart technology integration, which has become easier in the past several years.  In years past, this integration would require unsightly retrofits that distract from traditional detailing.  Today we can discretely incorporate technology into buildings using wireless communication and smaller devices.  Another nice benefit to a competitive technology market is smaller, more efficient mechanical equipment which allows for smaller homes without reducing living space.    

Modern Traditionalism I believe is here to stay, especially here in New England, but only as long as contractors and millworkers are trained to build in this way.  This style combines really two styles which done right can result in timeless architecture.  Architects like myself find comfort in following the rules of traditional architecture and admire the beautiful details and form, but we’re not afraid to think ahead and react or even anticipate changes to the environment and to technology.  These factors are constantly in motion and so must our designs.  To be successful we must find the synergy of modern and traditional elements.       

TNS Architects’ project, Green Living, a solar farmhouse, provides a good example to illustrate Jason’s concept of “modern traditionalism”.