Alex Coppock

The layout of space: elevations and poetics

by 12th Oct, 2018

The layout of your interior spaces will impose a routine on everyone who lives there so it is important to ensure the routine you create is life giving, easy and beneficial.

Every home and every person’s routine is different but we find there are some set routines that we find resonate with most people and which can be used to start thinking about the plan of the house.

In this series of eight articles, we’ll take a look at some of the spaces in the home, their relationship to each other and what their design needs to consider.

In this sixth article, we look at the way we lay out our spaces.

These days, a living area is generally associated with the ground floor, since this has good access to the garden. Traditionally, however, living areas were located on the first floor and this is still worth considering if losing direct access to the garden is overshadowed by gaining views over the landscape. At this point, the idea of development of balconies and terraces may be important to the overall plan of the building to give direct access to more spaces which may not be on the ground level.

There are also cultural associations with levels within the house. A book by Gaston Bachelard called The Poetics of Space, investigates people’s associations. Cellars he associates with darkness, dampness, fears and ideas of being buried. Of course, this is not always the case, but it can be if a basement area is developed badly because one can feel like one is living in the ground without any natural light and with the constant smell of damp. On the other hand, he associates attic spaces with dreaming, with garrets, with creativity, with privacy, with reclusiveness.

Neither of these ideas have overriding power, but as you develop your spaces you must always be aware that you are not just considering their size, height and relationship with each other. You are also considering their association with people’s hopes, fears, dreams and experiences, which will colour their experiences of these spaces in powerful and unpredictable ways that can give heightened understanding to the internal spaces of the houses.