Nowadays cottages are often used as summer or weekend getaways - often by lakes or the seaside - by urban dwellers seeking to escape the noise and rat race. They are often built as rental properties in popular tourist areas. But usually when people think of a cottage they mean a rural dwelling in the traditional English country cottage house plans style with stone or stucco siding, asymmetrical lines, one-and-a-half stories high, and with hip roof and steep gables - the overall impression being a cozy, storybook appearance.
Aesthetics is in the eye of the beholder, and it depends upon the prevailing tastes of the time. A building's functionality, or fitness, is a matter of how well it accommodates the purposes for which it was built. Its structural integrity means soundness - will the building last over time? Historically speaking aesthetics has usually trumped fitness as the overriding factor in architectural design. Classical architecture was preoccupied with articulating features on walls and facades. Modern architecture is equally concerned with aesthetic formalities, such as form following function.
For example, in the southern United States sunshades and louvers as well as light colored building materials for roofing and cladding help to reduce the heat gain. Sustainable design also means that every inhabitant has access to outside views with natural light and natural ventilation. This sometimes results in narrower floor plans, or articulated plans which expose interior areas to several exposures. The contemporary house plan is designed with the goal of reducing fossil fuel consumption, and providing a healthier and relaxing environment.
Nowadays architectural soundness has acquired a new meaning, with the advent of sustainable designing. A dwelling sheathed in solar panels has a very different aesthetic than the usual suburban house. Multi-unit housing which eliminates the thermal bridges created by extensive glazing and concrete decks do not share the aesthetic of glass paneled high rise towers. Passive solar designs often borrow elements from local architectural styles to address local climactic conditions.
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