Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Volume of Space

Borrowed space  

For the last two years, I lived as a perpetual guest in Missouri and Rustavi, Georgia. I lived in other people's space, among their things. I was very lucky with the beneficence of my hostesses and with the attractiveness of their environs.   

My space

Now, for at least a year, I'm living in my own space again.

And by "space" I mean that in two contexts: 1) my own place; and 2) several rooms that are mostly empty. 

Volume of space

Over time, I'll need to add a few pieces of furniture to my place. A guest bed. A couple of chairs. A table.

But for now, the airy volumes of space, the unobstructed expanse of floor, and the blankness of the ivory walls and ceiling feel soothing. They are a freedom.

I do have color in my line of sight, but it is bound neatly by frames.  My Jim Logan poster. My Pasenko Band poster. The french doors frame the green backyard, through which I often see, in the afternoon, a trio of black cats loiter beneath the tree. 

I'm not sure I'm a fan of the late architect, Paul Rudolph's, designs, but this quote about and by Mr. Rudolph resonates, taken from The Paul Rudolph Foundation blog

 Paul Rudolph, the Carl Jung of architects, believed that architecture was basically about manipulating space, light, proportion, texture and material to fulfil the psychological needs of the occupants.

Famously, he said, “People, if they think about architecture at all, usually think in terms of materials.

While that’s important, it’s not the thing that determines the psychology of the building. It’s really the compression and release of space, the lighting of that space and the progression of one space to another.”

As I appreciate the beauty of my volumes of space, I can't help but think of a bad example of space design. It's a state office building in Jefferson City, called the Howerton Building. It's a big empty box, for the most part, but its volume of space is merely a warehouse for human capital, not a space that respects humanness. The interior is crammed with cube farms and long, claustrophobic, empty corridors that make you feel like you're on a spaceship. The exterior lacks only coiled barbed wire atop a chain link fence to distinguish it from a prison. When you learn that the "human capital" within is responsible for providing social services, it's even sadder - the enervating physical environment making a challenging job even more difficult.  

Howerton Building, Jefferson City, Missouri

Not sure how I digressed over to the dark side of the volume of space. Maybe because when I have volumes of space that promote feelings such as liberty, serenity, and creativity, it makes me angry about designs that dehumanize a building's inhabitants.

So to get back on a happy note: this rootless person feels good about my airy space - it belongs to me and yet it doesn't weigh me down.

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