Needing A Nook To Be Free

Hugo Macdonald counters the view that small spaces are claustrophobic:

Time once was when rooms in houses were divided into small spaces – each with a prescribed function. It sounds ridiculous. You cooked in the kitchen, ate dinner in the dining room, lived in the living room and so on. The rise of open-plan living after the war was “modern” and progressive, thanks to the dictum of Le Corbusier. It was healthy to let air circulate. And partition walls went the way of the dodo – the enemy of the architect, the preserve of the uncultured. Open-plan living was aspirational. In the 1980s you were nobody if you couldn’t cook, entertain, run a bath and lie in bed all in the same room. A cavernous converted warehouse apartment with exposed brick was the stuff of dreams – endless, uninterrupted space to live and party in. …

We’re constantly reminded that more of us are living alone in singledom than ever before. Could it be that the lofty open-plan living we’re so accustomed to, where couples live in the same single space, is in fact stifling us to distraction and divorce? “Needing space” in a relationship is a little misleading – it should be reworded to “needing spaces”.