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The Weather Network
Aug. 17, 2019 | Saturday
Editorials and Opinions
Architext: An intuitive rationale

Love or hate his work, Picasso was a creative genius. Grounded in classical realism, he completely understood the ‘rules’ of his art and from that anchor he pushed the boundaries of expression. Still, no matter how ‘out-there’ his finished work, the basic principles embodied by those ‘rules’ could be traced. Similarly, ‘good’ residential architecture whether conservative or avant-garde must embody fundamental design principles.

First, it must be inherently responsive; in other words, the interior and exterior must intuitively reflect and complement the lifestyle and activities of those who live in (and those who visit) the property. Walls, openings, and spaces need to be organized in a fashion that can be ‘read’ naturally as an individual approaches, enters, and subsequently moves through the home. Broadly speaking this can be called the ‘order’ or underlying rationale of the design. While we must keep in mind that ‘lifestyle’ is a reflection of prevailing socio-political-economic conditions (e.g. in a ‘proper’ 19th Century house the kitchen was typically hidden from ‘polite society’ in a basement, rear extension or segregated corner), ‘good’ architectural order bridges changing societal contexts by creating a framework couched in fundamental human predispositions.     

In my opinion, the Order of classic Georgian design is the primary reason for its popularity spanning nearly three centuries. For most folks, it’s a very easy ‘read’ that flows so naturally we intuitively know the location and purpose of everything in the design. In contrast, a design which lacks order very quickly becomes an exercise in frustration!