Voyager image alerting alien worlds of man's existence.

Voyager image alerting alien worlds of man's existence.


Are our homes more than passive “shells” that protect us from a hostile environment or do they play an active role in the way we experience the world? Architecture is often judged from the outside … but it experienced from within. A house can encourage activities that help us grow or force us to its will. For example, a house that does not have spaces that connect to nature, encourage creative pursuits, allow for contemplation or to gather as a family can unnecessarily, and often unknowingly, limit our lives.

Although residential design has evolved over time, the forces that have determined its trajectory derive more from practical, economic and historic concerns than a conscious decision to create environments that enhance the human experience. Architects are more likely to look within their field for solutions than to the outside (e.g. social or natural sciences). At its worse this has created a kind of “ego-tecture” that may create compelling sculptures but, not necessarily, great living experiences. A recent trend in architecture is a renewed concern for the environment that has spawned and kind of “eco-tecture”. An improvement but still short of a comprehensive approach to design- one that might actually help us to evolve in response to our living environments- a kind of “evo-tecture”.

When the Bauhaus was begun in the 1930’s, it had at its core an agenda that united the sciences with the arts, specifically, design and the biological sciences. Science was seen as an agent that could imbue design with the power to correct social ills through the creation of healthy living environments. The focus of this new philosophy was to make light and airy living spaces that were both affordable and available to all social levels. In the years since, there have been major advances in the other social and psychological disciplines as well as the natural sciences. The intent of “evo-tecture” is to revive the interest in a scientifically based, multi-disciplinary approach to design whereby our living spaces can nurture as well as shelter us. At its fullest expression, it would modulate our world experience and thereby our personal evolution.


Having lived in the “Boathouse” now for 8 months, I have noticed changes in the way our lives have adapted to the experiential nature of the house. My children know that when the image of the sun reaches the meridian line on the living room wall, it is time for their naps- a fun experience that connects them to the sun’s cycles. By separating their sleeping space (small 7’ x 7’  “pods”) and their “play areas”, we are able to afford them privacy and also a larger communal space for play and/or artistic pursuits with friends. My wife and I look out onto gardens throughout the day in winter and, in warmer months, they become an extension of our living space as the glass doors disappear into the walls. We watch squirrels, humming birds, dragonflies and butterflies playing in the side yard (50% of our 40’ lot) that has become a mini nature preserve on our narrow urban lot. The house provides us with an “anchor” from which we are better able to better understand and appreciate our place in the larger scheme of things through connection on the many levels described in "The Meridian House Concept".


© Copyright 2013 Thane Roberts AIA