Sunday, 15 April 2018

_ Approach _

I’ve been wondering recently why as a country (or maybe globally?) , we’re all so desperately conservative when it comes to our domestic buildings. I don’t mean in terms of tradition, taste or style – but in the way that the building works.

There’s a typology that has evolved over the last few hundred years that is pretty much the default choice for everybody. This is a house that has basically the same accommodation in it – just configured differently. There’s usually a formal entrance, a living room, kitchen (which, if you’re feeling radical, may be in the same space), a series of bedrooms for individual occupancy, and a bathroom or two.

Bigger houses are generally more of the same, and while there may be many conversations about finishes and fittings, there’s almost no conversation about the 'principle of a dwelling', and little rethinking of the set of conventional spaces that appear to be beyond question.

Much as I’m interested in the technology of vehicles, domestic architecture is unquestionably throttled by the dominance and abhorrence of the awful patch of tarmac, which constitutes a driveway and a garage outside the front door.

Is there a different model of living from the default and unthinking identikit series of spaces in different dressings which most of us have?

Most of the design conversations around houses in this country are limited to issues of shape, colour and taste, and consequently they’re pretty boring. The conversation needs to move on now, and houses need to change, adapt and evolve. They need to challenge basic assumptions of how we live, and suggest alternatives.

At present, alternative models of domestic space are really only considered by a few progressive architects, and this needs to change and enter the mainstream. More than anything, domestic architecture should be progressive and idealistic, and not default to received norms. The tragedy is that the model of living that is rammed down our neck by mainstream house builders is a cynical one that they know will sell, as there’s little alternative. As a community interested in built spaces , we all have an obligation and responsibility to challenge this.

_ mind the gap_  There's a gap between where we are and where we want to be. Many gaps, in fact, but imagine just one of them. ...