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The Philosophy Behind Slow Spaces

by Danny Robertson

Slow living is a philosophy that has been discussed a lot in recent years. Slow living is a lifestyle with a focus on slower approaches to normal routines and aspects of everyday life.  This philosophy has influenced many designers working today with an emphasis on creating "slow spaces". A slow space puts more emphasis on space rather than form. Like bodies, buildings have systems, bones, and skin. Interior decoration is equivalent to clothing; it is mutable and fashionable. The inside space represents the soul. It is the abstract feeling that is difficult to describe or photograph. Slowness is required to experience space. It is not promptly consumed, but once it is absorbed it is not easy to forget.

The approach of "less is better" was championed by Dieter Rams, one of the designers for Braun, in the latter part of the 20th century; and it’s all the more potent today. The problems of over-consumption, stress, exploitation, and waste can be addressed by putting more emphasis on quality rather than quantity. For us, it means designing fewer but high-quality and timeless buildings that will last for more than a 100 years.

Another characteristic of slow spaces is their holistic sensibility. We should view the systems and properties of life as wholes, instead of just a combination of parts. Architecture is different from a building in that it is a design of the whole, a space occupied and lived in. Rather than just the roof and walls, it incorporates the space, the materials, the feeling, the workers, the supply chain, and the impact on the environment.

In Slow spaces are enjoyable, feel calm, relaxed, comfortable, and happy. It could be your bedroom, a cozy cafe, the New York Public Library, or your church. Slow space is meaningful and deliberate, and is designed for you - and your experience. It speaks to your entire group of senses, including eyes, ears, nose, and skin, and leaves a permanent impression on your mind. It is a place to linger, inhabit, and experience, rather than just an object to look at or a place to pass through. Slow living expressed through the spaces we inhabit is the cure to our harried schedule and busy lives. 

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