My home, my friend.
I lay in the darkness, staring at the ceiling dimly lit by afternoon sun peeking around drawn curtains. Yesterday was a terrible day – I hadn’t slept for four days; my senses are wired, and I’m exhausted. I can hear every little sound. My home is still, quiet, patient. I feel that this house is my friend, it’s been my companion for a while now. When I was healthy, I took it for granted. It didn’t mind.
Now, my friend cares for and protects me, blocks out light when sleep or migraines come. The way my friend is structured tunes out street noise and deadens clangs from the lounge and kitchen, where my partner busily lives. When I’m able, my friend shows me lively scenes through the windows, and it makes me happy. My friend’s texture and composition of brick and plasterboard, the painted wooden beams and polished wood floors, all remind me of nature and calm me when I touch them. Tracing my gaze over the natural patterns gives me quiet enjoyment. Our non-verbal conversations reconnect me to life, and my friend is contented, kind. I wonder, had my friend not been so kind in their architecture would my recovery be the same?
I’ve been getting to know my friend as a living being: observing and questioning its physical, sensual and material aspects, learning from its effect on me in different weathers and lights. My home, my friend, has a presence – it emanates a strong and wise femininity that grounds me, calms me.
Anthropomorphising architecture in this way helps me examine what makes a kind building. It’s an experimental approach: Pia Ednie-Brown, Melbourne-based academic and architect, applies the method through the ‘The Jane Approach’.1 In her project Avery Green, she created a personal relationship with her house to discover how she could renovate it. By personifying the building, she stopped objectifying the house and better analysed how place relates to people.2
Personification is how I articulate kind architecture. My friend is a house, a physical being. I recognise kind architecture in my friend, my home, but now I look elsewhere – kindness comes in many forms.
- The Jane Approach is a method of thinking about the relations between humans and things by acknowledging that life can exist in other forms. Ednie-Brown chose to name her house ‘Avery Green’ and identified it as female. See Pia Ednie-Brown, Can a House Be a Person?, TEDxDeakinUniversity (Melbourne: www.onomatopoeia.com.au, 2015).
- Fleur Watson, “Avery Green,” Architecture Australia 106, no. 5 (2017).
A retroactive manifesto on recovery and architecture.
Part 2 – September 2015