Sunday, 18 September 2011

-| wasted space |- 

The more compact the better - is today's motto. 

When most people see a plan of a house or apartment, there is a tendency to term all space which is not functionally utilized (invariably meaning "not occupied by a piece of furniture")  as wasted space. Likewise, architectural elements like foyers, ante rooms, passageways and verandahs; in short, spaces that lead to another, providing buffers or gradations in spatial sequences are considered questionable. These are in fact the essence of your plan, allowing it to breathe and communicate without shouting. 

Consider an aircraft toilet. It is perfectly functional. All you need to add is a shower cubicle. But we do not build similar toilets in our houses. This is because each human activity goes beyond the obvious function. Bedrooms are not just for sleeping, dining rooms are not just for eating. Kitchens are not just for cooking. Each of these activities form part of 'living' or 'dwelling', which goes beyond mere functionalism. Reducing the art of dwelling to the sum of these activities results in a mechanical house, perfectly functional in that it has a compartment for each of these activities, but no ‘life’.

So you have a plan with all these compartments. What next ? Hunt for further wasted space within these compartments and convert them into "storage". As a nation we seem to be obsessed with storage space. Any vacant space is used to store stuff. 

Builders build Lofts in apartment bedrooms so that storage space is gained, but at what cost ? Your bedroom is ruined. As you lie in your bed you can sense its looming presence overhead, stuffed with bulging old suitcases and old cartons and what not . Can you not plan a small room, say 1.5 mt by  2.5 mt to keep all the stuff that goes into your loft ? Suppose you are paying a 1000 rupees per square foot for your flat, is forty thousand rupees too much to spend to get an uncluttered, clean house ? Besides you won't need to finish this room that well. Even a concrete floor will do. You will probably spend close to that much on covering up your lofts with hideous shutters anyway ! 

The space which flows under the bathroom washbasin counter, which keeps the room from feeling cramped. Lets cover it up with shutters !  All six feet of it ?  What are you going to store there anyway ?  A hundred bottles of Harpic ? Or perhaps piles of that stuff that makes the water in the potty blue.

And look !  that bed is floating so elegantly in the bedroom over some 'wasted space'. Lets build some storage there so that we can bang our heels against it first thing each morning.   

Ultimately, such houses, far from being living, vibrant dwelling spaces become 'storage spaces' to store you and your family. 

Passing thought: Morning rooms in old bungalows. A space to enjoy the rising sun. To celebrate the dawning of each day ! What could be more essential in a home ? 

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