The architecture of a single-story home on a circular drive. The laughs and cries of children filled its space, earlier today. Now the house is left to watch the sun set behind the trees, to cool in the mottled shadows cast by the leaves. In the little office beside the garage, sounds of rushing traffic faintly reach the ear. The sound is indistinguishable from a light rain in winter. The house seems to enjoy the quiet. A family of six lives beneath its roof. How rare is silence for this silent witness? It has watched children avoiding homework, mothers cuddling babies, fathers tossing large balls to their young sons. And arguments and the tragedy of divorce. And the death of the old. The birth of the young. It has shielded its peoples from the wind, cold, rain, snow, and heat. True, but this house has done more than that.
It’s provided physical shelter, but also psychological comfort and spiritual sanctuary. It has been an icon of identity. People who left long ago, upon returning, remember who they were, which is to say who they are. Some remember that bare spot in the lawn where the ants toil, where the natural rules of life and death were taught in tiny relief. Some remember the cold of the window glass in winter that brought conflicting desires to play in the snow and to snuggle in the warmth inside.
This house could not solve all of its occupant’s adversities. Still, it gives evidence of happiness freely bestowed upon all who have ever entered it’s doors. This, it seems to me, is the main contribution of architecture. It has the character of the artisan rather than the artist.
The artist makes beautiful things. The artisan makes beautiful things that are also useful. Beautiful and useful. What better description could there be for good architecture?