Hearth and Home

For those hard to define aspects of buildings, some might say esoteric.

Hearth and Home

Unread postby Barrie Christian » 12 Aug 2012, 12:13

An important feature of the houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright was the hearth, or fireplace. It was particularly proud in his Prairie style houses, but was important in his other houses as well. The hearth was located prominently, if not centrally, in the house, and its significance was as a symbol of the family, as well as a design element.

Paul Oliver, in his book "Dwellings" gives testimony to the importance of the hearth in other cultures. His illustrations include the yurt (east Asia) and the hogan (north America). The internal layout and orientation of these buildings, of which the hearth is a part, have great significance and meaning for the occupants, apart from the practical value for heating and cooking.

It would be uncommon for new developer houses in the UK today to have a hearth or fireplace. An open fire is not acceptable when the emphasis is on reducing carbon emissions, and somehow a small woodburning stove lacks the impact required to signify the heart of the home.
The television or home cinema is now more likely to be the focus. This appliance has moved out from the corner of the room (flatness has helped with this transition), and perhaps an re-evaluation is required about the size and shape of living rooms to accommodate this development.
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Barrie Christian
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