house as family portrait

Every house has the opportunity to become a an intricate tale of the family who built it;  like a portrait to the outside world, but also like a glove fitted to the functions and character of the family.

As Frank Lloyd Wright explains his idea of the house as a family portrait, in a letter to prospective clients, he says,”I try to make each home characteristic of it’s owner and an interpretation when possible. I think all of the buildings are entitled to a certain family resemblance…”

“…if the architect is what he ought to be, with his ready technique and consciously works for the client, idealizes the client’s character and his client’s tastes and makes him feel that the building is his as it really is to such an extent that he can truly say that he would rather have his own house than any other he has ever seen.”

Too often these days, we  build large edifices for our families but they rarely express, at least in depth, what is unique and special about our family; often they barely accomodate our family type.

Families are made up of individual personalities obviously, however given a list of family types,  we would not have too much trouble generalizing a little. Would we consider ourselves as part of an intellectual family, an active sports family, an artsy family, an adverturous family or a spiritual  family, etc.? Understanding what type of family we are helps us define what we need and want in a home.

It is the soul searching, stopping to think about what is important and enjoyable in our day to day routines, that  influences the quality of our designs. The personality captured in the special places, the internal traffic and air flow, the quality of light, and the little details—collectively, these are the architectural elements that create a memorial to our family. And, maybe someday, another family like ours might find and enjoy the spirit of the place we called home…