Monday, March 9, 2009

porch to patio

do you ever find yourself clicking link after link and ending up reading something really interesting that you have no idea how you found?
well, I do.  
And today I ended up reading this really interesting article originally published in 1975 about a cultural shift that led to an architectural one from front porches to back patios.  
The porch functioned as a bridge between the public and the private,  it was understood as an extension of the living space of the home but a passerby could be greeted and invited to come on up for a chat.  People were aware of their neighbors and of what was going on in their neighborhood and had to fight for their privacy.  The shift to the patio in the back of the house in the middle 20th century achieved that privacy but lost the feeling of community.  And when people built attached garages and made it possible for them to almost never see their neighbors. 

the article ends this way, "The old cliche says, 'A man's home is his castle.'  If this be true, the nineteenth century porch was a drawbridge across which many passed in their daily lives.  The modern patio is in many ways a closed courtyard that suggests that the king and his family are tired of the world and seek on the companionship of their immediate family or intimate peers.  The tension between the need for privacy and the desire to belong to a community is still with us.  The resolution of this seemingly ever-present conflict in needs and values is, and will be, mirrored in the design of whatever is called a house."

Maybe the blog is the new front porch, public because anyone can see it (I had a visitor from Ulaanbaatar the other day, and no one I know lives there!), yet private because you only post what you are willing to let people see.  You can invite passers by to chat, but they don't have to.  Or maybe I'm over thinking and should get on with my day!


Lisa R. Lewis said...

I really loved this post. Thanks for sharing!

abigail said...

thanks :)

Jennifer said...

very interesting! when we moved into our house (a rancher without much of a front porch) our backyard was in terrible shape, so we spent time with our new puppy in the front yard. if it hadn't been for that, we probably still wouldn't have met some of our neighbors.

I just found your blog via Urban Grace (I think) and I will definitely be back. Also loved the article on the complaints filed to travel agents in England -- hilarious!

abigail said...

I'm so glad you like it!