“He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The following text doesn’t want to be either an article or a scientific investigation, but rather a critic towards those canons still anchored in the past that are preventing the evolution of man’s demands which nowadays is inevitable, in the hope of making young promises reflect on the immediate future that awaits us.
Once took note of an age in which man bowed to an often lethal virus, we can’t think anymore that “living together” necessarily means living in strict contact with our neighbors.
Until a few months ago, the co-housing theme had been much discussed without focusing on the privacy of the individual, except for the sleeping area. Nowadays, instead, we found ourselves in front of the question about how can we equally live in small “sub-communities” by maintaining a high (if not higher) state of alarm which is linked to the exchange of corporal fluids. A theme which has recently to be strongly prominent in the internal debates between architects and urban planners; I don’t’ know if I should be relieved or worried.
During such a particular moment of our existence, it’s really hard for me not to wonder about how we decided to live in the last past century. They keep on telling and explaining us which are the correct dimensions, the so-called “standard square footages”, that we are supposed to follow while designing a domestic environment, a collective or a co-inhabiting one, and yet, at the same time, we cooperate to gradually reduce our critical thinking to zero. But do we really believe that all these spatial criteria, rules and laws are absolute? We can agree on some of these ideas, those regarding environments such as the bathroom area that may need a high privacy degree, but what about zones like the sleeping one?
As the whole world is experiencing right now, we face the risk to spend an increasing amount of time inside of our own houses and, nevertheless, bedrooms keep on being designed as spaces with limited fruition. Although it survives thanks to the “smart” working mode, the bedroom is usually abandoned on the early morning, to make some coffee and prepare their workstation, which is often located in the dining room or the kitchen, or at least, if you’re lucky, in a little office. The bedroom gets some air once you wake up and stays closed until late post-dinner, the moment in which we’ll decide, maybe, to end our day and go to sleep.
Which is the paradox in a day planned this way? When it was possible to carelessly get out of our houses to reach our workplace, it was clear (and it is still clear) that the entire house used to turn off until our return, after which it was supposed to take life again thanks to our mere presence; on the contrary, now that we are forced to readapt our comfort zones, the night zone is used similarly, despite our continuous presence inside of the house.
This fact leaves us with a question: do we really need a bedroom? And the answer is: of course we do. Its presence, like that of a bathroom and a kitchen, was born from a fundamental need. As we know, having the chance to bath and to feed ourselves is the basis of a decent life, a life which everyone should be able to get.
© Giulia Brusoni, Plan of the housing model, Milan, 2020.
Just as the kitchen saw in time an expansion in another environment like, the dining room, and just as the bathroom was expanded with an anteroom which usually hosts appliance like a washing machine or a drying machine; wouldn’t the bedroom too deserve a rework of its functions with an expansion of its possible applications, granting in this way more extended fruition during day time and not only during night time, avoiding the simple positioning of a chair or a table to write and read?
© Giulia Brusoni, Sections of the housing model (bedroom, kitchen and bathroom), Milan, 2020.
It may appear as a small portion of our houses but, even if it’s being more and more squeezed in the domestic environment, I truly believe that everyone is starting to feel the increasing need of having more space to compensate that old freedom we had; freedom that we could have by simply crossing a few steps, or by pressing the button of an elevator.
I was one of those who, during the already famous quarantine that apparently won’t stop haunting us, started to think about which needs I would have wanted to fulfil on a space level, especially concerning my own bedroom. Therefore, during a moment of discouragement, I had fun by imagining what could have been an environment in which I would have loved to spent the lockdown.
© Giulia Brusoni, Elevation of the housing model, Milan, 2020.
I tried to reverse the typical modus operandi: I started by redesigning the old bedroom and, in the end, I got to the planning of the entire house. By doing so, I was able to manage every little detail of my needs, such as spatiality, natural lighting and a proper room ventilation system, by putting first the space I was most interested in. An interest of mine, and many other people, if only we could homologate a need, or at least a preference, to create a repeatable model. An open space’s alter ego, in other words, not for the living room but for the bedroom.
Maybe the beloved bedroom of each one of us could be the very starting point in reclaiming something which we haven’t much explored yet. Could this often neglected part of the house evolve in something else? Will we be able to imagine and design a wider space, that eventually will stop being a simple station stop for the end of our days?
© Giulia Brusoni, Surface graph of the housing model, Milan, 2020.
Translated into English by Matteo Annechiarico.
Cover: © Giulia Brusoni, Bedroom perspective, Milan, 2020.