Friday, October 22, 2010

Cat House in Michigan City, Part 5 -- Jonathan Hale, Le Corbusier, a Human Scale

Move towards a human, not an abstract or awe-inspiring, scale. The proportions and sizes of the human body and its elements (the eye, hand, foot, arm, etc.) are beautiful (see photo, to left, of people on the beach in Rio de Janeiro). They are not universally beautiful -- an alien from the edges of existence may not agree -- but they are intrinsically beautiful to people. We are wired to think so (after all, we made God in our image).

I have been convinced as much by two readings, "The Old Way of Seeing", by Jonathan Hale, and "The Modulor", by Le Corbusier. I used to dismiss the idea of some things being beautiful to all people, but these two men make a powerful argument. All people are people and, as such, tend to have certain physical characteristics. If we did not find these things beautiful, how would we fall in love (or at least procreate)? Why would we take care of children if there weren't something calling to us (tiny eyes and feet)?

The home should take advantage of these proportions and sizes. Certain proportions should be used (i.e. one-to-one, one-to-two, two-to-three, the "golden section"), but not rigidly so -- Mr. Hale makes a compelling argument for variations on a theme. In my home in Michigan City, the rooms will be not much bigger than comfort requires.
Larger spaces should be reserved for places that are not to be comfortable, but awe-inspiring (why would someone want a "cathedral ceiling" in a domestic situation?). Unless you are addressing Parliament, keep rooms small at home.

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