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architecture

Architecture / Front porches, refuge and prospect

Last sum­mer, NPR did a series on one of my favorite archi­tec­tur­al ele­ments — the front porch. An install­ment from late July cov­ered the use of the porch in con­tem­po­rary home-build­ing, specif­i­cal­ly in New Urban­ist (wikipedia entry) devel­op­ments, such as Sea­side, Flori­da and oth­er pseu­do-quaint "towns". (More on my prob­lems with New Urban­ism anoth­er time). The most intrigu­ing part of the show, for me, was an allu­sion to the psy­chol­o­gy of the home, and the fact that a large part of recent home-build­ing has focused on the home as a fortress, a defen­si­ble space, rather than a van­tage from which to observe and inter­act with the world. This was my intro­duc­tion to the prospect-refuge con­cept; prospect rep­re­sent­ing the abil­i­ty to sur­vey the sur­round­ing land­scape, and refuge serv­ing as a hide­away from the world. It's sim­plis­tic, but I like it and I believe it, inso­far as I can believe any the­o­ret­i­cal con­cept can describe the fun­da­men­tal needs of every­day life. Uni­ver­sal Prin­ci­ples of Design has a good overview, with lots of inter­est­ing relat­ed mate­r­i­al as well.