Re: Re: Common house access
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Wed, 5 Nov 2003 07:49:11 -0700 (MST)

On Wednesday, November 5, 2003, at 09:23 AM, Sharon Villines wrote:

Put ideology and fascination aside and pay attention to what people really do and how they "read" buildings. No one can even find our front door because of very subtle design problems that were just not apparent on site plans or elevations.

I wrote this last line and left it sitting on my computer for an hour before I sent it trying to think if this was really true or not. After I sent the message and reread it, I realized how this problem might have been detected -- by drawing sight lines on the plans.

Our complex is a U shape with the commonhouse at the bottom of the U. Half way down the U, the land changes from a green to a piazza enclosed with walls (that hide fire stairs). You enter through an arbor in the center, between those walls and look across the piazza to the commonhouse. From that vantage point, you cannot clearly see the "front" door because it is off to the left and is obscured by a slim post supporting the roof sheltering the entrance. In design terms this puts the focus on the piazza -- tot lot, fountain, gardens, outdoor furniture -- which nice, but if you are looking for a door, you feel lost.

Our landscaping person brilliantly thought to add two urns of flowers to draw attention to that corner but keep getting moved because they are in the way of large package deliveries and moving furniture. The door that is "obvious" is the door that keeps getting propped open and is used often because people knock on it, oblivious to the intercom sitting to their left.

Fixing this structurally will be expensive and is not high on anyone's list compared to other things we want to do. Not to mention that we can't figure out a solution that we are sure would fix it without causing others. We are so unsure what to do and how much it would cost that it isn't even on our itemized wish list!

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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