I have learned that I pay better attention to what is around me if I consciously choose a frame through which to view the landscape. My daughters and I saw the New Zealand landscape through the lenses of our bird book. The last time I lived in Hong Kong I purposefully paid attention to what was hanging in, and from, windows into domestic spaces.
Recently, on two day trips, I decided to use the “connecting house” as a frame through which to see what was around me. Prior to moving to New England I had read about (but never seen) “connecting farm houses” in the works of cultural geographers like Wilbur Zelinsky. This domestic architecture is unique to New England, though it may have some roots in England and Wales. In this style, the main house is connected to numerous outbuildings, and finally tied to the barn.
I had seen a few example of these complexes over the past year, but when I decided to pay attention to them, I found them around every turn!
New Hampshire and Maine have many examples, so day trips to those states allowed to view endless varieties on the theme.
So dominant is this house type, that even new housing construction follows the form. So much for the homogenization of American domestic architecture…
Actually, domestic architectural form and construction are some of the more conservative elements of culture. What feels like “home” and our knowledge of how to build is passed on from generation to generation with little change. This makes the introduction of new materials and construction techniques to be very difficult.
Now–if I could only get to know someone who lives in one of these houses–then my curiosity as to how they look inside could be satisfied!