27 June 2010

100628 private diagram

Great things, almost by law of nature, need their counterpoints.  Part of what can make a great 'public' in great cities, is the corresponding sweet rest of isolation.  A full public life with the contact of friends and acquaintances, the wonderful daily activities of the streets, all the interesting things to see must have their counterpoint in a familiar place with only loved ones or being alone to contend with. Even for just a little part of the day.

It seems to be an accepted fact that where many inhabitants live in great cities, are also deeply compromised as places to live.  The so-called price of living in that great place. The wealthy, and the fortunate few who with live the quirky exceptions are the only ones who defy the compromise.

As an architect, a life-long 'problem solver', I wonder why, ultimately things need to be like that. In my heart I know that an accommodating dwelling can be made economically, but it should keep a few things in mind.

  • It doesn't need to be big, just appropriately designed for the needs of it's inhabitants.
  • It needs to have plenty of natural light, and it needs a good view of the outside world.
  • It is a private place. Views in, sound in must be well filtered.
  • There must be safety, dignity, and grace in getting from the public place into the unit. The procession of arriving at home should be a delight
  • The unit should be accommodating to the necessities of life. It should be comfortable, and provide acceptable means clean and cook, and provide the proper resources for personal hygiene.
  • With modern building methods, there is no reason why living units can't be flexible in how they are used, accommodating the needs and interests of its inhabitants
  • The places we live in, private as they may be, still must be arranged to foster a sense of community and build a neighborhood.

We've been building cities for quite along time now. For much of that time capable architects and visionaries have been imagining how to build places to live across the economic spectrum.  With that experience we collectively hold, it seem preposterous to make the proposition that the dwellings we are making in our age, fall short of this simple list above.

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