Monday, March 14, 2011

on "Ethical Function of Architecture"

"a very real increase in freedom has given new urgency to questions about what should be our place and vocation.... The same self-liberation presupposed by the objectification of reality lets us live our lives... haunted by a sense of emptiness and futility."
Should the house not make the occupant feel important? Not in the sense that it is a hollow showpiece - a status symbol without substance, intended to serve the purpose of artificially inflating one's presence and capacity to impress others - but rather in the sense that when the occupant enters it, he or she himself feels an immediate applaud for their unique accomplishments and ideals. Should an owner not get the sense, upon entering their home, that it celebrates who they are or who they seek to become, inspires the individual person to become something greater than he or she was yesterday, rather than demonstrate it to others? A house should not simply serve as a social crutch inside which we permit ourselves to hide suspicions of our inadequacy, but a place to remind us that our short-comings pale in comparison to our potential.

Perhaps such an ideal of the home is futile. So many people feel satisfied with what already exists, they would likely feel frustrated and dismissive at being asked how their house might make them feel otherwise.

"why" a client will grumble, "would I want a house that celebrates me? I work forty hours in a cubicle just to pay my mortgage, and all I want from that mortgage is a place to rest my head. I'm just your average guy. Why would I want that kind of a home?"
"because" I'll insist, touching my fingertips to his arm, "the house built for you begs to differ."

Everybody could benefit from aspiring toward his or her unique avenues of greatness. And everybody, in turn, deserves a house that is an extension of that trajectory; one built to symbolize what he can become rather than busying itself attempting to convince others of what he is pretending to be.

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