I’m hopeful. I’m sitting in our lounge room, its tall angled ceilings, homely textures and full height windows overlooking the garden with views of the city. Autumn sunlight filters through the trees and uneven glass, the shadows flickering over the carpet. I’m sick, but being here heals me.
I think about why this house makes me feel this way. It’s not just that it is home; I’ve lived in many places, but few felt like this. This building feels kind – as if it actually cares if I’m feeling good or bad. A building that cares and nourishes feelings of relaxation, peacefulness or happiness, it strikes me, is kind. Structures that evoke these aspects of humanity is what makes great architecture, kind architecture.
Kind architecture nurtures the people it shelters. It cares for its inhabitants with kindness and compassion, and creates dignified, empowering atmospheres that encourage healing and connectedness. It’s individualistic and customisable, responsive to people’s changing needs. It’s friendly and safe. It’s created from both feeling and evidence – evidence that shows our environment affects how we live. Kind architecture is the enclosure from which life flourishes.
Kind, caring, healing architecture is not a new concept. All architecture should be inherently kind: it should foster a culture of inclusion and go beyond the novelties of ‘sexy’ or popular architecture to truly serve the human condition. But for this to eventuate, kind architecture must be clearly articulated.
As I wonder how one might design and construct such a kind building, I find myself asking my home — the house — as if it could answer me. What would my home say to me? I know I must answer for it. If I compare my home to my lover, my mother, my closest friends, what would it have in common with them? My home is not alive the same way they are, and yet, they all have a physical, sensual, and material presence.
A retroactive manifesto on recovery and architecture.
Part 1 – May 2015