Dwelling as Placemaking

← Back To Journal | Article Posted 2018-12-02 09:50:28
"Only if we are capable of dwelling, only then can we build." ~ Martin Heidegger

Our present position begins with the observation that people and cultures are defined by the balance they make between the general and the particular. We feel that in Western society this balance is in jeopardy. Mass culture is becoming so predominant that the local and the particular are becoming less and less evident. This is the 'McDonald's Theorem' - the proposition that international capitalism is creating a uniform world culture. Architecture can play an important role in this context, as a counterbalance to the increasing generality of other aspects of culture. That is why we think architecture should become increasingly oriented towards the particular. Of all the arts, architecture is most capable of dealing with the particulars of situation - with 'place'.

~ John Patkau

Home has a unique and central role in our life, 'grounding' us by creating an emotional, existential, and functional anchor. Making a home is an act of establishing a center, defining boundaries, and claiming a refuge from the rest of the world. 

The making of a home is in many ways synonymous with the making of a nest, and also with the establishment of a center from which our expeditions, large and small, may be staged. Our home place becomes for us "unique in all the world".

To 'dwell' is to come to know home as an experiential center. Even experiencing and exploring other places, we know where it is that we return 'home' and know intuitively what it is that home means. The memories and values of our home travel with us; they are affirmed upon our return. We desire an unspoken assurance that our home will shelter, stimulate, support, and nourish us as we dwell there.

It may be argued that a home is not purchased, but created by dwelling. In this sense home is not a house, condominium, or apartment - a material construct - so much as it is an experience. It need not be yet another opulent yet nondescript building in an equally prestigious yet ambiguous landscape. Home should cultivate and reflect genuine expression of the values, priorities, and interests those who dwell there.

It may be Martin Heidegger who most eloquently argued that a home is created by dwelling. To 'dwell' is to come to know home as an experiential center. Even experiencing and exploring other places, dwellers know where it is that they return 'home' and they know intuitively what it is that home means. 

The memories and values of our home travel with us; they are affirmed upon our return. The place we dwell should shelter, stimulate, support, and nourish us.

"You can be sure the same houses have been built along a highway strip outside Fresno, California, at the edge of a swamp in Pahokee, Florida, and on the blizzard-blown fringes of St. Cloud, Minnesota. They might be anywhere. The places they stand are just different versions of nowhere, because these houses exist in no specific relation to anything except the road and the power cable. If the ordinary house of our time seems like a joke, remember that it expresses the spirit of our age. The question, then, is: What kind of joke represents the spirit of our age? And the answer is: A joke on ourselves."   ~ James H. Kunstler

"You are not at all like my rose", he said. "As yet you are nothing. No one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one. You are like my fox when I first knew him. He was only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But I have made him my friend, and now he is unique in all the world." ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince

Sam Rodell

Sam has been practicing as an award winning architect for over thirty years, the majority of which of which he has also built his client's projects. This blend of experience balances the powerful artistic and theoretical interests of architecture with the pragmatic understanding of construction only available to highly experienced builders and architects.   He is currently licensed to practice architecture throughout the western United States and Canada, and is also certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) which expedites registration in other states and provinces. He is the only Certified Passive House Consultant (CPHC) architect in eastern Washington and northern Idaho.

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