When the notions of dream and house are brought together, the dangerous condition of the dream house arises. ‘The dream house’, says Bachelard, ‘must satisfy both pride and reason, two irreconcilable terms’ (Bachelard 1969:61). One might even say two inescapable terms, the extent of the hubris and the rigor of the reason only tempered by imagination and the policies of financial institutions.
The making of this house has been long and difficult. To re-imagine your own and the family’s rituals in a new spatial environment required that the house be designed from the inside out. These spatial relationships find some embodiment in the plan and the sections. Once the house is completed, the architect departs and you become, as Clare Cooper Marcus describes in House as a Mirror of Self. ‘part of the power struggles in making a home together with a partner; territory, control and privacy at home; self-image and location; disruptions in the bonding with home, and beyond the “house’s ego” to the call of the soul’.
We have gone through possibly six completely conceived and, in some cases, even fully-documented designs for our home. And, in most cases, on different sites, too. During the process you are wracked by insecurities – financial and otherwise – and beset with procrastination and indecisiveness, because your ego is determined to design along with you. In addition to the ego, there is the matter of accommodating secret passions in a new home. I found some solace in a memoire by Rod Steward, of all people, who had this to say about his habit: ‘You know the dangers, but you think you’ll just have a little dabble, just to find out what it feels like… The next thing you know, your so-called little dabble has turned into a raging all-consuming habit… It can get hold of a person. It can take over your life…’ (Steward 2012:234).
Surprisingly, Rod said this in relation to collecting art. I mention this, specifically, as making art part of the design of a building is more difficult than one may think.
In an abstract sense, the idea of a series of box-like spaces, dark outside and light on the inside, informed my early ideas. In its realised version, the distinction between inside and outside is less definite, with darker tonalities on the outside which assist in merging the structure with the landscape, and lighter tonalities on the inside which complement the sketches and paintings, and aid the distribution of filtered sunlight.
As architects, we are ostensibly concerned with space and place, but home – as is firmly stated in most quotes – is people, not a place. Yet it is a place that ‘allows one to dream in peace’ (Bachelard 1969:6).