“If I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house, I should say: the house shelters daydreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.” Gaston Bachelard
“Personal identity, thus, is the content of private dwelling.” Christian Norberg-Schultz
To reside is to dwell, and the concept of dwelling gives residential design a special resonance for an architect. Our dwellings are our places of safety, security and privacy, and they are also containers and embodiments of memory, both personal and communal. Philosophically, a dwelling is a microcosmos, a representation of the larger world around it, but it contains private meanings and history that animate it for its inhabitants.
Residential design can involve form making that draws on the personal history and experiences of the inhabitants. It can also find inspiration in historical styles and allusions, or in the character and spaces of the surrounding landscape. It can also incorporate and reinterpret the communal, public lives once lived within a structure and make that history part of the private spaces of a repurposed building.
Doctrinaire modernism sought to sweep history away and begin the world anew, but our private places we have collectively recoiled from that attitude. Layers of time, character and stories animate the most meaningful residential places, and the impress of past inhabitants and histories are, to my mind, an inspiration rather than an impediment.