The June issue retreats into the interior, in order to interrogate our homes and ourselves
Inside editorial brain architectural review
Source: Mihai Andritoiu / Alamy
The thickness of the skull suggests heavy walls, the scalp a delicate skin. Inside it feels small. The rippling folds of the brain’s sulci resemble a softly layered cocoon. The ventricles and gyri at the centre almost look like a human figure lying down, staring at the ceiling. It is a complex internal landscape, our most intimate place.
As lockdown empties collective spaces and abolishes public life, we discover a world of continuous interiors. For the 2.6 billion of us still confined, furniture becomes an extension of the self. Journeys around flats, rooms and corridors reveal uncharted territories. The imagination slips. Architecture collides with textiles, objects, screens. The perimeter of our bed marks a new safe space while desks colonise domestic surfaces, wired to the world; the physical manifestation of the mind’s wanderings are laid bare on worktops, leaving their traces on the kitchen table. Despite virtual connections, the pandemic has infused a persistent feeling of alienation. Blaise Pascal wrote 350 years ago that ‘all of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone’. We crave the intimacy of a nest and find respite isolating in a bubble.
The Smithsons believed that dwellings should have ‘their right to address a portion of the sky with its as yet unbreathed air’ – an unattainable luxury today. The House of the Future was described by Beatriz Colomina as a ‘lung inside a box’, before she added ‘the city of the future is a city of artificial lungs’. If architecture’s role is to mediate between an outer and an inner environment, the thresholds have multiplied. It is a time to rethink the boundaries of the home and the limits of the self.
This piece is featured in the AR June 2020 issue on Inside – click here to buy your copy today