[This article was first published in the Summer 2009 edition of Le Tour Sutton, under the theme of "munificence."]
Five Architectural Gifts That Keep On Giving
"We shape our spaces; thereafter they shape us..."
Winston Churchill's famous maxim comes to mind when pondering this season's theme of "munificence."
Let's focus on its positive implications by
contemplating the potential for generosity, bounty and inspiration to spill into our daily lives based on
the decisions we make as we shape our home designs.
Think of them as five architectural gifts that keep on giving:
LIGHT. Generous light is fundamental and inspirational.
Large and thoughtfully positioned windows and skylights bring illumination
and joy all year round, especially in the winter.
Fortunately, modern windows have been significantly improved in terms
of heat loss and durability, making larger glass surfaces practical.
SHADE. As much as you need generous light, you also need to modulate the light. The classic
outdoor shade device is the pergola, a framework of columns and beams covered by
trellis or vines. No space is more relaxing and seductive than a sun-dappled summer patio under a broad pergola.
The Romans understood the special charms of serving a good local wine under a protective pergola, and in this regard,
nothing has changed in
HEIGHT. If the ground plane of your life is analogous to the X-Y plane of Cartesian geometry,
you may need a little more Z-axis in your life. The vertical lift from even a small
area of double-height ceiling can transform a living space.
Tall spaces are uplifting due
to the extra light, air and sense of three-dimensional freedom and drama that they deliver.
Treat yourself and your house to some height.
NATURAL MATERIALS. There is daily joy in living with natural materials such as stone and wood.
Cedar shingles, for example, are a beautiful and functional siding that
can literally last a lifetime if they are without knots and imperfections
and are installed correctly.
The genius of shingles is that by following simple nailing and spacing rules, a surface of fascinating
randomness can be achieved, that, at the same time, has an overall uniformity.
PORCHES. Covered porches have always been an essential component of country living.
They provide a protected entry and a shaded
seating area and they change the way you relate to hot or rainy weather.
On a country porch you can wait out a summer shower or heat wave in complete comfort.
If the porch is deep you can almost live outdoors, just a step away from
Light, shade, height, natural materials, porches...
These are just five of a multitude of architectural devices and design decisions that have a direct
influence on our quality of life. Over many decades we will receive satisfaction and
inspiration, as well as convenience, comfort, ambiance and visual stimulation from these
architectural gifts that keep on giving. If Churchill was right, we take on the qualities of the dwellings
we inhabit -- what better reason to pay attention to the spaces that we shape.
Text and photos by Architect Eden Greig Muir, Atelier Muir, 41 Principale, Frelighsburg, J0J 1C0, tel: 450-298-1212, web: www.ateliermuir.ca© Tous droits réservés 2009 Eden Greig Muir, architecte