My favourite time to be in my bedroom is late morning. Behind heavy curtains on my windows, normally pulled back, hang sheer, pale golden ones. The glow of late morning sunlight filtering through those into my space is ethereal. Warm, golden light enters and slowly soaks into my walls, my floor, my belongings… it adds a quality to my furniture and home that was unforeseen and unexpected when acquiring them. While the space is beautiful on it’s own, it comes to life under the yellow light that bathes it in soft sun at 11am on a Sunday.
In the evenings, the southern winds that howl outside rustle pine trees and flat leaves on the other side of the glass. The sanctity of my room remains. In here it is serene, still, quiet. Yet, the flickering shadows of leaves outside that are swaying in the wind fall onto my skin and my desk as I work. The wavering shadows are silent, yet flicker so rapidly they seem to be rustling the pages of my half finished drawings, causing a restlessness in my limbs as they move across my arms, and bringing the room to life in some way other than the sun.
When the wind howls, the acoustics of the space waver also, whistles of wind creeping their way through glass panes and into my thinking. Soon, the pattering of rain will make my space busier also, and the saturation of colours will appear to be faded down as grey clouds cast their dull light into the increasingly loud space. The room feels incredibly different, yet just as alive, as it is when pale and golden.
At night, I lie awake, and through the window I see inky blue darkness, save from four lone stars. In darkness, the sheets seem to rustle more audibly when I stretch, and each breath is noticeable. My walls, devoid of light, feel cooler, the air inside calmer, and the whole room feels as if it is resting along with its’ occupant. It is relaxed, after long day full of stormy thoughts and wildly flickering shadows, baring the harsh elements and ever changing light – now, it rests.
What interests me is how drastically the qualities of a space are altered within, due to the external. Even in rooms with less glazing, or thicker sound proofing, perhaps designed with less attention to context than others… what is without completely changes the way a space feels, sounds and appears. No matter how eye catching the room itself or the furniture within it is, there is something that continues to pull ones’ attention toward the honking car noises below in a busy apartment, or the quality of light inside – this is a swift reminder, that architecture and interiors are empty, expressionless and blank elements until they are brought to life by the context they are placed in, and the occupants within.
Context feels, when written as a design consideration in an assignment brief among many others, as just another aspect on a page. Something important, sure. Not as important as the material of your walls, though, surely not… but as I become more attentive to my surroundings and reflect on the qualities of my most lived in spaces, I am coming to realize the vast importance of what is outside in architecture. Whether or not a space is intended to be one that connects to the outside, it will, inevitably.
With this in mind, I think with heightened awareness of how my designs will feel for occupants in different external conditions, regardless of whether the people are observant of their surroundings like myself, or ignorant; and regardless of whether it is a space obviously tied to nature (through large glazed planes or any other connector) or not.
Context deserves our attention. What is without will always, gently or severely, alter what is within.