The Architecture of Life: Emotional Architecture I

The Architecture of Life - Christopher K. Travis

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Emotional Architecture I

This article was published years ago and can be found floating around various places on the Internet so just for convenience sake, I posted it here. The first post in a series of three.

What is it that makes a house a home? Do bricks and boards create a room that is comfortable and inviting? Is relaxation a result of finding the right paint color? Does that feeling of being safe and protected come from the choice of wall covering or is it a result of the finish hardware?

These questions seem frivolous on the surface, but after twenty-five years of helping people design, build and remodel their homes, I’ve become convinced that understanding the “emotional architecture” a client brings to a project is a critical part of designing a house that feels like a “home.”

In the architecture firm with which I am associated, we are trying to develop a technology that tailors our projects to the true natures of our clients, but it’s not easy.

The issue of “home” is a highly emotional one. Logic seldom comes into it.

The fact is, when most people decided to remodel their home or build a new house...they lose their minds!

It’s true. Stable marriages topple like palm trees in the hurricane of home improvement. Pleasant, cooperative homemakers turn into Machiavellian harpies, combating husbands who vow to fight to the death on the ramparts of their own financial Alamos.

Practical, down-to-earth CPA’s suddenly realize they are the reincarnation of Frank Lloyd Wright. Customers lie about their budgets, trying to bargain with the designer as though they were buying their house from a Tijuana sombrero salesman.

Perfectly reasonable people, who would never dream of telling their doctor how to treat a disease or their lawyer how to draft their will, think nothing of telling a professional architect how to design their home.

Worst of all, when people begin the process of designing a new home, they forget the basic laws of economics. I long ago discovered that when customers who were over budget came to my office to “trim the fat,” they were actually going to add a Jacuzzi, upgrade the ceramic tile, change the plastic laminate counter tops to granite, and then expect the price to drop.

It set me to wondering.

One day I experienced an epiphany. I was converting a group of historic buildings in Round Top into a country inn.

The Queen and my kids were still in Houston. Every Monday morning I drove up to Round Top and then drove home to Houston every Friday night. In between, I slept on an air mattress on the second floor of an old pier and beam house, one of several we were restoring.

Alone all week, I had plenty of time to think. In the evenings I would sit in an old rocking chair on the wood plank porch. I found myself inexplicably happy. Everything seemed right with the world as I rocked on that porch. I began to ask myself why...and before long I uncovered the source of my unexplained peace of mind.

I remembered a place from my childhood..., my great grandfather’s porch. I called him “Nandaddy.” I can still see him dressed in overalls, bending down to pick me up, a broad smile on his face. “Come hug my neck,” he would say.

Continued here.

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If you want to know more about Nandaddy...go here.


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