Although the traditional English style of cottage is most typical in America, cottages can be built in a variety of styles depending upon location and the builder's tastes, ranging from Spanish house floor plan designs of the Southwest, which typically have single stories, stucco exteriors, and tile roofs; to Cape Cod cottages which are usually box-like, timber-framed structures two-stories high, with steep roofs to shed rain and snow.
Exposed wooden or steel beams, flat roofs with large overhangs, and split levels to take advantage of the terrain, are also common accents associated with the contemporary style.
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.
The challenge for the designer today is to produce ecologically-sound buildings without compromising contemporary concepts of beauty. There are plenty of examples of excellence in sustainable design which is soundly built, well-fit for its purpose, and an aesthetic delight. Even small luxury home plans are increasingly ecology-conscious in their choice of materials for conservation of resources and self-sufficiency.
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