ruminations about architecture and design

Monday, October 14, 2013

the discretionary home

The fact that this image did not load properly is actually appropriate for today's post.

A recent incident with the smoke alarms in my house made me aware of one of the most important qualities of residential architecture--perhaps the most important quality: Passive Reliability. Fundamentally, the critical components of a house that make it essential to survival do not rely on moving parts. Foundations, Roofs, Walls, Windows, and Doors are all static systems from the perspective of the occupant. Doors and Windows, if they are operable, move under use control and the energy input for use is minimal.

Modern houses contain a variety of mechanical devices--namely heating/cooling systems and electricity--that are also under user control. Both these systems are miraculous and reflect deep technological investments of multiple generations, and their impact on the maintenance of comfort exceeds the labor of an army of servants. They are discrete, fairly reliable, and surprisingly cheap to maintain and operate (but for how much longer?)

The electronic excitement of our internet age makes the experience of a home that is quiet, warm, and dry  a wonderful experience. Many people feel enslaved by their smart phones and social media constructs, so the brief joy and solitude of hearing your front door close behind you at the end of a day is of profound importance.

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