Wednesday, 5 February 2014

immersion and commencement

I am spending the next 3 months searching for those small built things that make a difference.  Mostly they are designed and intended, but sometimes not.  I am looking for the things which are the small part of a larger story, but which can be read separately and function independently. The small spaces or buildings or details which give the larger space it's rhythm and it's balance are what interest me.  Things which contribute beauty and utility, which make people's experience of space more meaningful, richer, safer and happier. 

Related to this quest for the small built things in our lives, we are renovating our home. It is also a small built thing, an extension to a larger house.  It's an idea of how we live made manifest.  A collection of small built spaces which force coexistence upon the inhabitants, stimulating interaction and manipulating the movement of life across the house.  Rooms become corridors, and corridor becomes a library.  A roof becomes a backyard, and a backyard is enclosed like a courtyard.  In an time of threshold free entries, a step becomes a deliberate doorway into another era.  And all of it sustainable, recycled, and low energy.

I have taken taken 3 months away from my normal employment to assist the build and do the easy things we can't afford to pay someone else to do.  I intend to crack wise, get in the way, carry bricks, sand weatherboards, sweep floors, and fetch coffees.  It's a time for me to recondition myself emotionally.  3 months away from a charged office environment, to be immersed in a physically charged building site.  Rather than watching people work through lunch, I am already watching them have determined scheduled smokos.

This - I have told myself -  is what I need.  I have spent 7 years looking at masterplans, long term strategies and the effect of my work on the political priorities of a large organisation.  The program of my design and management output is tied up with a project's relationship to the requirements of a large, diverse group of stakeholders, an organisation's political needs and a maintenance regime.  Sometimes we scored goals, and it is always wonderful, but the associated midfield arm-wrestle is depressing.

After seeing the big picture for some time now, it's a chance to see the beauty in the small built things.

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