The architect was a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. Now, as you probably know Lloyd Wright was America’s most famous architect and he designed some pretty crazy buildings, I visited a few of them, such as Falling water and Kentuck Knob in Pennsylvania. All his buildings seem to be put together in order to create an enhanced sense of connection between the people living in the house and their surroundings. To do this he used specific architectural devices that work subconsciously on us as we move through the space.
If you approach our house from the street, it looks a little disappointing, there is no obvious front door, there are not many welcoming windows, it feels almost as if you have arrived at the back of the place, not the front, then as you get closer you see the door is to the side, so you turn into the corner towards it. As you approach, you start to feel, if anything a bit claustrophobic as if you are being squeezed down a tube. You are, to be honest a little disappointed, you are preparing yourself mentally to enter some sort of hovel. The low door opens to a narrow entryway with a wall right in front of you. Your expectations are realized: this is a horrible, tiny little place after all, the walls press in but as you step forward in a stooped posture, a sense of openness to your right makes you turn.
What you see as you lift your head takes your breath away. The light, the space, the broad sweep of the hills across the water, the air, the birdsong all seem to flood in through walls of glass and pull you forward with joy and expectation. Its as if you have just been born; the dark passage from the womb has delivered you to the light, to the air and to life. What I have described is just the entry way, but the theme of compression and release is continued throughout the house with lowered ceilings, narrow passageways and open, airy spaces unexpectedly opening up beyond.
Whenever anyone visits us, I always take note of their body language when they arrive, then I watch to see what happens when they step inside. It works every time. They stand at the door slightly hunched, but expand visibly into the house when they see the light.
Of course the architect has designed the house in order to play on these emotions and what’s best about it is that it happens automatically, it just happens. Every time.
It is as if our architect discovered one of the greatest secrets of life, one expressed in the Psalms, that although weeping may endure for a night, joy comes in the morning. The journey of life may at times grow dark and seem to be leading nowhere, but if we keep on going it will turn out better than we could of imagined. Never give up.