A while ago, Funda came up with a house design based on the information it has gathered through out the years. For those who don’t know, Funda.nl is a website for renting and/or buying real estate. For this project, it used what people mostly searched for in a house/apartment and made the ideal house based on the results. The house itself has a simple design with a high ceiling living room and bedrooms on the top level. Not really sure I get the logic behind the way they use the space, but that is not really today’s topic.
As expected, there are things I like and things that I do not necessarily agree with, or have a different view on. To name a few:
– I’ve always wondered about high spaces: who cleans the spider webs? You know! As Julia Childs says: how about us “the servantless” people!
– I like the high doors of the living room and the way they allow for the summer to come in.
– I love the roof window of the master bedroom. I think is absolutely fantastic and I’d love to sleep under the stars and wake up looking at the morning sky. It would be really interesting to see first hand the physical effect that would have. There is of course also the issue of the large amount of light pollution in the Netherlands, but we’ll talk about that another time.
– The child’s bedroom is actually really fun. It has far too little light for my taste, but hey, I’d have fun climbing those walls and making faces at people coming up the stairs! It is, however, the room that ignited a series of questions.
As adults we are told that we need to have a quiet bedroom, calm and serene so we can get the best possible sleep. And unless the size of the apartment does not allow for it, it is recommended not to place storage spaces in the bedroom. So why do we still design children bedrooms with all the trimmings?
We stuff all the functions they might need into the same tiny room: bed, storage, work space and play/socializing space. But if we, as adults, still have a hard time leaving work at the door, in the next room or even on the desk when we get home, how can we ask that of children and teenagers?
I am aware that not all apartments are large enough to have separate offices and bedrooms, there are however options in dividing spaces so that there is a mental and physical separation between the two. Shouldn’t we start looking into how that affects/might affect/could improve/be developed?
Take for example the secondary bedroom from “-Re” House no.12. It is a simple division, within the same space, however it makes a clear distinction between the desk/learning/excitement and the bed/sleeping/calm area. This has the benefit of removing one from the busy area and helping in winding down.
Humans associate actions, people, surroundings and emotions. We use this process to boost ourselves and/or to sabotage ourselves.
The simplest example is sports. Start your training session thinking “this is hard”, “I can’t make it”, “I don’t like this”, and so on, and you’ll most likely not enjoy the day, be in pain, be miserable and avoid doing it again. On the other hand, even if you don’t like it and you know you don’t yet have the strength, but if you go into it looking for things to distract yourself in a positive way, telling yourself “you can do this”, even focusing on humming positive songs, will make things easier and bearable. And in time your mind will associate the positive trait with the exercise. I myself have been in a constant muscle ache for the last 3 months, so I’ve been using this a lot. Yeap, that’s what happens when a computer potato really starts moving!
The same process applies to everything. We associate emotion (be it positive or negative) to design, textile pattern, furniture and more, from spaces we’ve encountered. We might not be always aware of it, however it always happens. So, if we’re working on a frustrating project or studying something we don’t like or understand in the same space we are to later sleep and recharge, it is more than often that we are unable to completely disconnect and put things aside. Most common side effects are being unable to sleep, having a restless night and/or waking up tired and cranky.
Take any recommendations for treating insomnia, they all advise to attach positive emotions and habits to going to sleep. And they all recommend keeping the bedroom calm, uncluttered and relaxed. So why do we think that play mode/learning mode for children is any different than work mode for adults? And that winding down and disconnecting from it in order to go to bed is any different from our need to leave work at the door or turn off the computer/phone hours before going to bed? So why don’t we keep this in mind when designing?