The presence of others who see what we see and hear what we hear assures us of the reality of the world and of ourselves.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Fixed Feature Life?

Fixed feature space is one of the basic ways of organizing the activities of individuals and groups. It includes material manifestations as well as the hidden, internalized designs that govern behaviour of man. One common example of fixed feature space is spatially organised inside of the western house. Not only there are rooms for special functions - food, entertainment, socializing - even the artifacts associated with the activities are related to that specific space. In some standards people who live in a mess are those who fail to classify activities and artifacts according to a uniform, consistent and predictable spatial plan. The internal layout however is quite recent.

Philippe Aries points out in a book Centuries of Childhood that rooms had no fixed functions in European houses until the eighteenth century. Members of the family had no privacy as we know it today nor there were spaces that were sacred or specialized for one function only: "...strangers came at will, while beds and tables were set up and taken down according to the moods and appetites of the occupants". In the 18th century the house altered its form, rooms started to be arranged likely to street and named after its function - bedroom, living room, dining room etc.

Some aspects of the fixed-feature space however are not visible until one observes human behaviour. It is important to note that fixed feature space nowadays acts like a mold into which great deal of behaviour is cast. As Churchill has noted: "We shape our buildings and they shape us".

It has been discussed lately that people do not think of their relationships with other people by kinship or emotions any more, but they have also started to name people by functions.

Futuro house by Matti Kuusia, 1968

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