Refuge + Prospect: home on our minds


I believe the natural world that was our ancient and lengthy home may have something constructive to tell us about the architectural world that is our present and recent home." -Grant Hildebrand, Origins of Architectural Pleasures

What spacial qualities inspire a sense of security and comfort? Paul (Reidt) says his design work is often influenced by Grant Hildebrand's Origins of Architectural Pleasures and the idea of "refuge and prospect." We might experience "refuge" in a contained interior space with dark tones as our ancestors found safety when withdrawn into the forest. A light-filled room with a view might rouse feelings of "prospect" just as hunters and gatherers experienced a meadow or wide open environment. As Paul explained to me, "You can apply 'refuge and prospect' to many circumstances. It's just one of those things that is so fundamental. It's probably hardwired into our code, into our brains - an accumulated experience that comes in to your emotional reaction to things...a wordless reaction."

A personal nook that reflects refuge + prospect. Design by Paul Reidt, KR+H. Photo by Peter Vanderwarker. 

A personal nook that reflects refuge + prospect. Design by Paul Reidt, KR+H. Photo by Peter Vanderwarker. 

Paul's explanation of "refuge and prospect" led us to one of our favorite project photographs. It shows us a personal nook that offers a garden view through its circular window. A round window can also be defined as an oculus - an eye-like opening often located at the center of a dome. In this nook, Paul designed an arch that repeats the curve of the window and is reminiscent of the dome of the sky. As is sky above there is earth below...the nook's desk top is a dark wood - an anchor or refuge as we might experience the shaded forest ground beneath us. The desk's chair welcomes you to be contentedly harbored while enjoying a long and lovely view into the garden.