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Álvaro Siza, 01 Textos, Porto, Civilização, 2009, page 349.


Alberto Campo Baeza. Mi casa en el verano es una sombra (In summer my house is a shadow), a text about the Gaspar house in Zahora, Cadiz, 1996.

Space and Time in Lockdown. Living a House Versus Living In a House

I’ve been thinking about writing on this subject for a long time, so now that they’ve locked me away between these four walls I’ve decided to take the plunge and start.

In our day to day lives we tend to trivialise those things that from time to time place obstacles in our flow of existence, but now, in contrast, the “silent war” we now find ourselves in is making us think.

These adverse circumstances, this lockdown situation with the “obligation” to stay in the same space – a place ideally called “home”, have provided fresh motivation to (re)consider the notions of home (and all that word represents), space and existence.

Home, which also denotes (physical and psychological) space, is whoever lives there and whoever visits it, whoever conceives it and builds it. It is the victim of its location’s time and deterioration, whose only purpose is to witness its existence.

Reconsidering what “home” means (or doesn’t mean) during these days of lockdown, we realise that, despite the fact that we form part of it, it invariably becomes a permanent, provisional, unfinished space, a space which we so often feel to be something alien to us.

 “…I am the master of the house, master of the world, or tenant of both, which strictly speaking means the same thing, and yet nothing…”1

Home is duty bound to be more experience than possession, more existence than appearance. At the end of the day, we take nothing of it with us; the only things left are memories immortalised through objects.

Permanently appropriating a daily space means making it our own; and we turn it into a home by associating it with our experiences and memories. The difference between “living a house” and “living in a house” will be the difference between the metaphorical shadow-house and wall-house.

The shadow-house is a house inhabited by memories, experiences floating in the air, and the echoes of a hustle-bustle routine. It’s the shadow-house that brings back recollections of objects that immortalise it: grandad’s wobbly chair or grandma’s sewing table, the rusty mirror and the bright light shining on the rotting wood of the stairs.

The wall-house is the house seen as a piece of property, an object acquired as an asset, a symbol of economic power. It’s the house that will always be home without being home, that makes life devoid of any excitement because you live in it without truly experiencing life in it. It’s the house that emphasises the banal side of life, where days flow effortlessly by thanks to the habits and routines generated there.

We need to live more in the shadow than in the wall. We need to make the walls less opaque by turning to the shadows, to experiment more and claim possession less.

Home has to do with the chance involved in existing. That’s revealed daily in the surplus time at the end of working days and in the time left over on days off, which we uselessly devote to procrastination.

Now I remember my grandmother’s excitement today when she was describing how hot the day was, in a house which, on receiving sunlight, changed: Shadow rose up between the four walls. Shadow which, although so dark, is transparent due to the brightness of the light it fights against there.2  Having a house is a full-time job. Not only are there prodigious feats of daily organization, but dreams cannot resist the desire to “live” that shadow-house.

* The expression “living a house” was borrowed from Alvaro Siza’s text ‘Viver uma casa’, published in 01 Textos, Porto, Civilização, 2009, page 133.
Text translated by Andrew V. Taylor
Notas de página

Álvaro Siza, 01 Textos, Porto, Civilização, 2009, page 349.


Alberto Campo Baeza. Mi casa en el verano es una sombra (In summer my house is a shadow), a text about the Gaspar house in Zahora, Cadiz, 1996.

(Figueira da Foz, 1996) Estudante na Faculdade de Arquitetura do Porto (desde 2014), com um percurso escolar dividido entre a arte, ciência e literatura, a arquitetura surge como a síntese dos três mundos. A palavra manifesta-se enquanto processo criativo, tal como o desenho em Álvaro Siza.

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