The significance of habitat


A dwelling, that object so common and current, as abundant as unnoticed in cities and such contiguous and frequent which makes it trivial to everyday life is and has been, without any doubt, one of the most significant components on all cultures.

The relationship of human beings with their physical environment, especially with their own habitat, has been fundamental to their development. Everyone requires, by his very nature, a place to settle, a place where lean and from where move ahead toward his interaction with his peers. His corporeal reality leaves no alternative, he exists as an entity that participates in the environment and must assume the task of cope as best as possible. Since his origins, he has learned to provide himself with sufficient spaces, first to survive and then to reside with his surrounding as his own scenario, and also with peers as his social environment. Human habitat is born, inevitably, at the same moment that emerges his need of refuge.

We understand housing as the possession of a place of residence —possibly not physical possession of the dwelling being for rent, but the living space—, place that identifies us, that locates us geographically, that represents us socially, that serves as the stage for our more personal activities and that provides us with refuge from outer space. Our usual room place provides us with that site to where return after leaving to the outside world and that, symbolically speaking, represents the innate feeling of territoriality.

My area of interest is Ethics and Architecture. I would like to make clear that what I understand for Ethics in Architecture is not about the common understanding of a decent professional behavior on the architecture professional, a fellow that does not steal nor mislead clients, does not lie in costs or in time goals, etc. This actually talks about honesty and righteousness, which is expected in any person and any practice. For me, the ethical exercise of architecture has to do with the fate of the projects, with the use of appropriate technologies, with the common good and, above all, with the domain of real needs (physical, emotional, sensorial and psychological) of users. The architect’s commitment with his performance has little to do with his vainglory or transcendence and much with the potential users’ benefit on any project.

A decent concept of design is based on the identification of the Habitat as a human and social phenomenon that occurs where response to the fundamental requirements of abode of the individual, from his socializing interaction and participation. Human habitat is the result of man presence over the environment. From this, it should be addressed as a physical entity in various forms and developments marked by the historical and geographical circumstances around it. Not as a classification of styles, but rather the identification of specific imprints left on the territory by its inhabitants. It is important to learn about the Habitat’s occupant, his characteristics and needs, his impulses and speculations, ambitions and desires. In sum, there is a need of analysis on this performer known as the user.

The identification of an individual with their own space is essential. It is the foundation of so mentioned sense of belonging, the need for belonging that strengthens the individual self-determination and enables him to assess everything that surrounds him from another dimension. The emotional security that provides an own site cannot be replaced with anything else, since real possession of a habitat is not in a commercial sense, as defined by our current economic system. Possession of a land or a dwelling, in a vividly deep sense, has more to do with a respectful identification where they fit the two meanings of belonging: on the one hand "this space belongs to me and it has to signify to others that they have to respect it as an object particular and alien to them". On the other hand "I belong to this space and to it I owe myself. I depend on it and I have to take care of it and protect it for it is the same since before I existed and which I am only temporarily responsible of it".

Human being has been identified with his concept of habitat so that his dwelling has become, with the passage of time, an integral part of himself. The site bounded by the dwelling walls is the extension of the individual's body and, depending only upon his body and mind, he can achieve the illusion of total freedom. The dwelling is the strengthened body, the frame for life.