One of my architecture teachers once told me that architecture is often underappreciated because when architecture is successful, it creates a seamless experience that provides the user with comfort, ease and functionality. Therefore, more often than not, good architecture is ignored. On the other hand, bad architecture draws attention to itself with complaints like the ceiling's too low, there's not enough natural light, the space feels cramped, etc.
I always thought that I agreed with her because it did seem true - nobody usually notices good architecture unless it's built by a famous architect, is historical or ancient, or is pointed out by a an architect friend/teacher/colleague.
But after visiting the Eames House, the home of the great American designers and architects, Charles and Ray Eames, I think that Great Architecture, in addition to providing comfort, ease, and functionality, creates spaces that people want to be in. They're spaces where you linger on your way to class or work. Spaces where you retreat to when you seek solace and refreshment. Spaces that you long to be in because there's just that something special there that you can't quite put your finger on. Spaces that actually enhance your quality of life.
As I wandered around the Eames House, peeked in the windows, and ran through the meadow, I said to Dean, "Wow, this is the kind of place where I want to raise our children!" I felt a little like Alice being transported to the fantastical world of Wonderland. I fell in love with all the little details of the house, like its proximity to the ocean, the presence of nature in, around, and surrounding the house, and all the little touches of whimsy and wonder that delighted you around each corner. What a perfect place for a young child (or children of all ages) to exercise their imagination and play!
Each window into the home of Charles and Ray revealed moments of their creative lives together. They loved to read, and throw parties, and be with and around nature, and make toys and films and furniture. They had created for themselves a space where "work, play, life, and nature co-existed." Their home was modern and tasteful, but with so many touches of warmth and friendliness. You could tell that this was a home where life was treasured, shared, and lived to the fullest.
I hope someday to have a home like that too.
To learn more about the Eames history and home, go here.