When it comes to houses, there are certain ergonomic features that make a space function, but it’s hard to argue for a need when spaces get larger than necessity dictates. However, strip a design back to necessity and we might be disappointed with what we are presented.
Therefore, it’s important to recognise we have cultural values overlying some basic needs that tell us when a space is adequate or not. I suspect that growing up in a colony, where land was once cheap and stretching one’s legs caused no harm, has bequeathed a luxurious expectation of space that is hard to extinguish. Of the prince and the pauper, the pauper seemed to have it good, but when life is going in the other direction, it causes much more angst.
This kind of lifestyle has gone unchallenged for several generations but is increasingly coming under scrutiny: climate change; urban sprawl; affordability. If I’m honest, I struggle with an internal conflict that recognises these factors but still wants a generosity of space.
Perhaps it is just a matter of me, and New Zealand culture, naturally growing up from that colonist mentality. Commute distances will cause us to value the density of cities and that value will supersede the one of space. The trouble is that the process doesn’t happen uniformly. Plus it happens slowly, and time is not on our side. The temptation may always be there to look to your neighbour with twice as much space. If you are building, challenge yourself. Big is not better, enough is enough.