What Houses Do
April 09, 2019
When most people think of houses, they do so with the mindset of what a house is. This is a Passive House. That is a Queen Anne. That’s a bungalow. That’s a Condo. In fact, we do this so regularly that we often forget about what a house does; which is kind of a shame, because houses do a lot.
Alternate Environment: Oregon weather is, at best, changeable. There are days where you could swear that you just went through three separate seasons in the last 4 hours and sometimes there are days that simply don’t belong in the season they are currently in. Thankfully, homes provide an alternate environment, one that is largely under the control of the people who live in it. There are many systems in place, both built in and mobile, that can tune the interior of a home to the perfect temperature, humidity and air quality for its residents. Insulation and air barriers make it easy to separate the inside and outside environments.
Safe Haven: A home is a haven. It is a place where those who dwell within can feel at ease. With nothing more than four solid walls and a firmly locked door, a sense of security can be achieved. Houses, however, provide safety on a multitude of levels. Fire safety is ensured by using fire resistant materials, the use of electrical conduits and proper grounding, even in the placement and mounting of outlets. Structural safety is maintained again through the use, proven construction methods, robust engineering, and the prevention of thermal bridges; the presence of which can cause moisture to build up in the walls, floors and ceiling of a home, causing mold. Additionally, Passive House homes tend to be very quiet; shielding those inside from the noise and activity of the outside world.
Personal Safety Through Universal Design: Aside from what would normally be done in the way of general safety, some homes are built or remodeled with additional safety features. Handrails and benches for baths and showers, extra wide halls and doors to accommodate mobility devices, elevators, ramps and threshold free door frames all allow for easy maneuvering around the house.
Memetic Construct: Houses are, by definition, buildings that function as a home. Wherever people live, they will build memories and the homes they live in are as significant as the events that take place within them. Thus, a house becomes the backdrop of the human experience, a place of familiar comfort and nostalgia that will last for decades, and in some cases, centuries. The only way a home can do that, is if it goes by largely unnoticed. Most of us remember a loved one’s kitchen, not the placement of the vents or the size of the windows, but the feeling of the kitchen that only exists when the house is a silent partner in the lives of those who live within it.