As the home becomes the epicenter of life for so many Americans, domestic design and architecture is in the spotlight now more than ever. This crisis is not only revalidating the importance of having a home to go to in times like this, but it is asking us to question the nature of our dwellings — whether they are comfortable, functional, efficient, and even inspiring to us. With eyes open for "silver linings" in this time of social distancing, we're reacquainting ourselves with the things we value most about HOME.
Literally, home is a roof over our heads, a refuge, a sanctuary, protecting us from whatever's going on outside. Be it a hurricane, a snowstorm, a heatwave, or a virus, our homes delineate a boundary around ourselves and our private space.
That boundary is "smart" in even the most rudimentary of shelters - it can be opened to let in people, light, and air, or closed to keep them out. It can help keep us warm or provide necessary cooling cross ventilation. It provides privacy when and where we need it as well as opportunities to see what's going on outside or to shout "THANK YOU" from the window.
Connection to Nature
Though home, by definition, removes us from the wilds of nature, we believe it is essential that it also reinforce our ties to the natural environment.
When moving freely between indoors and outdoors isn't possible, natural materials, colors and even house plants serve as an alternative source for a connection to the natural world. Even rearranging furniture (and mirrors!) to strengthen visual connections to the sky, birds and trees outside provides comfort and connection.
Comfort and Joy
So many different elements of our homes work together to give us comfort. We find physical comfort huddled in front of a fire, nestled in a plush sofa, or standing on a padded runner on our kitchen floor, where we've found ourselves standing to prepare 3 meals a day.
Home is also a repository for the physical objects that give us joy and inspiration. Art on the wall or a mug made by hand connect us to what's human and universal. The color of a tile reminds us of ocean waves or dense forest. Cultivating beauty is as simple as noticing beauty, and our home is as good a place to do so as any.
As architects, our professional responsibility is to ensure human health, safety, and welfare. We make sure homes are safe, equipped with smoke detectors, generous circulation for egress, proper fire proofing and stairs that are code-compliant and easy to navigate. We also consider how to make homes easier to clean and maintain, carefully selecting high performance materials and living finishes that perform better as they age.
Our favorite countertop is made of copper, a naturally antimicrobial surface, while our preferred door hardware is bronze, a copper alloy which provides added peace of mind every day, but especially during this health crisis.
Community and Individuality
Home gives us spaces to be alone with our thoughts, and spaces to be together. While a single room may contain multiple zones for different activities, our rooms are all now public zones as we host meetings or entertain virtual play dates and dinner parties, allowing our friends' dining tables on the screen to become an extension of our own. Do we wish we had more space? Yes. Do we find moments of delight and connectivity nonetheless? Absolutely.
We're more conscious than ever of how fortunate many of us are to have a home that takes care of us in so many ways. Many others are not. Good design nourishes our humanity. Let's share it.
Be well. Be safe. Stay in touch. Thank you for all doing your parts. We look forward to re-connecting!