Sunday, 12 December 2010

Machines for Living

Amanda Vickery - was her work the inspiration for the film called Georgiana? - is now presenting a television series about Georgian architecture. In her introduction to the first episode, she claims that it isn't just the architecture that draws us to Georgian houses. According to her, we are drawn by our fascination with the lives that were lived within those buildings, rather than by the buildings' intrinsic appeal.

I understand that without this claim Vickery's series might lose its point, but I don't think it's actually true. Certainly in my own case, what draws me to Georgian houses is entirely their architecture - or, more precisely, their proportions, (their high ceilings, their large rooms, their spaciousness, the way the principles of their design are so perfectly adapted to the needs of the human soul). Essentially, Georgian houses are generous. They contain but they don't confine. In my more demented moments, I even wonder if the depravity of the modern age comes down in large part to a lack of that generosity in our modern domestic architecture. Thanks to a combination of theory and economic contingency, many of us now conduct our lives in buildings whose dimensions are inadequate to our psychological needs

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