So Many Columns, So Little Time: The narchitecture of the Florida panhandle.

’80s-style Spanish Mediterranean + ginormous columns + fugly color palette = Narchitecture. (Photos by C-M.) 

If narchitecture is architecture that looks as if it were commissioned by drug traffickers, then the narchitecture of northwest Florida would appear to have been devised by their thuggish suburban cousins. This thriving regional school of design takes narchitectural staples, such as Italianate balustrades and Classical columns, and showcases them against a backdrop of oversized structures that scream ‘stuccoed Mediterranean citadel’ and ‘psycho homeowners association’ — all at the same time. Not to mention the colors: a rainbow of shades that are drawn straight from the polo shirt selection at Abercrombie & Fitch. What’s most intriguing about these McManses, however, is their voluminous scale, intended to make the average late model Denali look downright puny. The best part? All of the structures shown here are actually simple beach “cottages.”

Click on image to supersize. Many more after the jump.

Too much is never enough: Spanish Mediterranean goes Doric. It woulda been even better if it were guarded by some stone lions.

One of the more unusual examples of the area’s flourishing regional narchitecture — with geometric columns that pay tribute to classical forms and a color scheme inspired by Lilly Pulitzer.

What separates a simple McMansion from the splendors of narchitecture? A pair of extraordinarily large Corinthian columns.

Narchitectural observatory watchtower with Roman-style decorative motif.

Add a few dozen fountains out front and someone could declare this sucker a UNESCO World Heritage site

I’m a classicist, hear me roar: Nothing says, ‘Hey, I’m at the beach’ better than a structure that channels Vitruvius and Palladio, with a mini-Parthenon on top.


  1. Joanne Mattera Art Blog

    I notice that houses 1 and 4 seem to have come from the same blueprint, though house #1 has added way more details: the beams under the eaves and and extra little room on the roof, like a New England “widow’s walk.” If you look closely–and I’m sure you have–there are puffy roman shades in the windows, a lovely accent to the greco, hispanico, mediterraneo, nuevo anglo ambience. And those balustraded front steps and balconies! Lovely. Because, really, nothing says elegance like a pair of balconies overlooking the garage doors.

  2. c-monster

    yes, houses 1 and 4 were located near each other, which makes me think the owners got a two-fer on the architect. also, i may have to steal the term “nuevo anglo” from you.

  3. Joanne Mattera Art Blog

    I have another term for you. Some decades ago, neighbors who lived near my parents in an Italian/American neighborhood had renovated an old New England Victorian. Inside was french provincial furniture with brocaded upholstry, red flocked wallpaper, roman shades, gold-toned doorknobs, chandeliers. Soprano-esque to the 10th power. My dad called the style “neo greaseball.”

  4. Home Interiors

    If you look closely–and I’m sure you have–there are puffy roman shades in the windows, a lovely accent to the greco, hispanico, mediterraneo, nuevo anglo ambience.

  5. Stephanie

    oh this is fun! you should come to the virgin islands. venture into the hillside communities, and you’ll encounter lots of doric columns, italianate balustrades, odd and garish color schemes, made unique with re-bar sticking up along where the second story would be, should the owners ever choose to complete the building process.