Architectural design revolves around several components that when integrated properly can create a beautiful expression that is also functional. Functionality can be described as both the efficiency of its programmatic uses (such as laundry room), and, as a component of how the edifice is perceived (the visual function of a building being expressed as a residence, place of worship, etc.).
The visual expression of function can be further described as having the qualities that make is special. For instance a place of worship should be a gathering place that inspires one to reflect and ponder, providing a focus on a person who shares their knowledge with others, while the residential visual function could be described as a place for family, that allows them to interact in a positive way, to feel secure, relaxed and connected, and to provide a stage for positive interaction with others. Certainly the programmatic function is also very critical in making life easier on its inhabitants by positioning related functions together to reduce the amount of effort and travel time between rooms. For instance, the laundry room should be close to where one disrobes and close to the locations where clean laundry is ultimately stored, like a closet, but shouldn’t be a source of noise for the household when the washer/dryer are running, an inherent functional conflict.
This series of articles will explore the programmatic functional elements of residences, since it is both critical and robust, not allowing enough time to cover the more fun aspect of visual expression. This is because this aspect is too often overlooked resulting in too many standard homes that only embrace basic functional relationships.
This study will also separate publicly shared spaces (living, family rooms, kitchens, etc.) from private areas (bedrooms, personal bathrooms, etc.). Some areas will interface between the two, like the garage (private) with public living spaces. Other items, like security, mechanical, lighting, structural, etc. will be mentioned as needed, especially if they are critical in making a welcoming environment.
In design, all elements are placed on a ‘sliding scale of importance’ or dominance over other items. For instance, one could say the living area’s importance is expressed by its larger size. This size can increase or decrease as can all other components of a house design. It is through a critical understanding of all components and how they interact that helps an architect determine where to stress some elements over others. Many of these hierarchies are understood by most people and incorporated almost by accident, but a good architect will understand the intimate relationships between the parts, which is why I am writing this, to help designers become more sensitive to all the different aspects, in order to avoid homes that fail in certain functional ways. A good example of this is the incorporation of a hallway. In projects where square footage is tight, one wants to minimize the area of hallways since they are only used for passage (generally) whereas if possible, a hallway could become a major feature of a home by linking indoor and outdoor spaces along an axis.
To be continued… 4/7/2021