YUKON RESIDENCE RENOVATION
The thought that a homemaker is more apt in creating a sense of home than an architect (no pun intended) has always eluded me. A few evidences can be observed: there is a certain economy of means, a matter-of-factness in putting the living space together, but rarely it feels stark or sparse. The furniture are at times mismatched, styles and tastes incoherent, perhaps due to the fact that they are acquired incrementally, but they are never rigidly staged. Some pieces have received special attention due to sentimental reason, and therefore hold certain intrinsic values to the owner. Plants are liberally deployed according to the law of photosynthesis; their proximity to the windows simply depends on how much sunlight each species demands. As a result the plants thrive and, under the most convivial circumstances, instill an air of vitality and calmness to the space.
None of the above would ever come into existence should the homemaker lacks the heart to care for his or her home. Therefore, one of our tasks as architects is to design spaces that make sense for their caretakers, and that acknowledge their eye as well as their hand. For a home will cease to be if it does not hold comfort and labour, contentedness and contrition, hopes and dreams.
A recent revisit to the Yukon Residence, a small house renovation completed in the spring of 2013, has confirmed our belief that thoughtful improvisation by occupants is critical to the success of an architectural project. In modern society where a sense of home is often a fleeting one, the retired couple has managed to ground the living space by furnishing it with a few humble pieces of furniture and decors salvaged from their old home, all of which bear the footprints of their family. An avid gardener, the wife also makes use of plants and pots, which thrive wholesomely in a space awash with plenty of morning sun. I notice her sensibility in working with the circular opening leading from the foyer to the main living space, by layering and composing elements to create a sense of depth. It is as if the moon gate – regarded in Chinese culture to symbolize the unity of family – is also a manifestation of her maternal composure: vast, encompassing and infinitely gentle.