ABSTRACT

Second, and conversely, over the the past two decades, the moves to make more sustainable buildings in order to reduce energy consumption and pollution through a return to selective modes of environmental control have generally involved not only a reopening of the inside-outside relationship but also an increase in the sophistication of the layering of buildings between the inside and outside. We see such devices and elements as solar shading and screening, light shelves, balconies, reveals and shutters, and the use of thermal mass. Consequently there has been an increase in the real or apparent thickness of the wall and frequently a return to solidity and opaqueness pierced by windows, with the ensuing framing of view and modelling of light. Most significantly we see the reintroduction of degrees of enclosure at different scales at the edge of the building e.g. porches, arcades and conservatories and often deep into the building e.g. courtyards, atria, and galleria so that the building is seen as zones of differing degrees of enclosure which interact environmentally and may be inhabited and used differently in response to changes in the external environment. There has also been a reintroduction of openable windows and screens and blinds and shutters by

means of which Individuals can manipulate their relationship to the outside world. Two realisations flow from this second observation. First, as a result of the reopening

and development of this relationship between the inside and the outside we have more opportunity to be aware of being in and a part of the environment. In part this is an argument for phenomenology and for physics; it is an argument for the living room which enhances the snowy day as analysed by Bachelard (2) with Frank Lloyd Wright’s “fire burning deep in the masonry of the house itself” (3); for lying in bed on a hot sunny

afternoon, the curtains swaying in the breeze, the dappled light, the sound of leaves rustling and distant voices and the scent of blossom through the window; for what Linda Heschong calls “thermal delight” (4); for the physics of heat and air flow expressed through and exploited by the forms of the buildings which are the places of our dwelling in the world, the situations of our lives. It is an argument for dwelling with rather than against the environment. The second and more particular realization is that it is precisely these situations at the edge, partially enclosed and partially open, which seem to be persistently attractive and enduring across all cultures, the back-to-the-wall (which is the built equivalent of the edge of the forest), the doorstep, the window sill on which to perch, the window seat, the balcony, the

courtyard (which is the built equivalent of the clearing in the forest), the arcade, the porch, the belvedere. Various explanations for this persistence and popularity have been advanced, for these liminal and other situations, simultaneously inside and out, which seem to be so sustaining to our sense of wellbeing. They have been seen variously as reconciling us with the trauma of transition from birth to our development as individuals and the mediation of the individual with the universal, about which Colin St.J. Wilson has written so cogently (5) and as based in the satisfying security of the cave-prospect situation of prehistoric times (6), where the mouth of the cave might give both the opportunity for retreat to protective shelter and an elevated view of the distant approach of danger or potential food. Frank Lloyd Wright’s houses have been revealingly analyzed by Grant Hildebrand (7) from this latter perspective, which may account for their persisting appeal.