Dreaming of Austin…

March 23, 2009

There’s something about Alberta that seems to be afraid of being different. This is evident in our housing most of all. I’ve been house shopping lately in the central Alberta area and it’s been discouraging to find that all houses built after 1990 look the same (and most of the ones built in the 80’s look like each other too) and that there are entire neighbourhoods built by the same developer. Did I mention developers don’t have much imagination but a lot of concern about the bottom line? Check.

So for five days last week our office journeyed to Austin, Texas for the incomparable SXSW Interactive Festival (a “nerd conference” to those of you that are cooler than me), and the thing that struck me the most about the city (other than the concept of having moisture in the AIR that wasn’t precipitation) was the ingenuity and imagination of the houses. We stayed in South Congress and were amazed to see no two houses the same, much less than next to each other in coordinating shades of beige or taupe. They don’t know the meaning of beige in Austin. Awesome. We saw orange houses, avocado houses, blue houses and one house that was almost literally a rainbow (hippie artist house). We also saw cute little houses from the 50’s next to cube-y modern gems from the 70’s next to hobbit houses and houses than can barely be called houses (I want to use the term “shanty”). VARIETY, people!!

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