This section is from the book "The Principles And Practice Of Modern House-Construction", by G. Lister Sutcliffe. Also available from Amazon: How Your House Works: A Visual Guide to Understanding & Maintaining Your Home.
Fig. 1. - Site Arrangement: Suburban Type.
Fig .2 - AspectOompaM.
This phrase is in very common use in England with a somewhat special meaning, owing to the law of "ancient lights", under which a building owner A is obliged to avoid interfering with the windows of his neighbour B as regards the access of light over A's property when this has been enjoyed for twenty years; the access of air also being held to go with the access of light But, apart from this, it is obviously essential to the comfort, conveniens-, and salubrity of any dwelling, that the designer should particularly keep in view two elementary and self-evident maxims, namely, that every room, passage, and stair, and every corner in the house, should he not only lighted, but as far as possible abundantly lighted, and that any unavoidable compromises should be carefully and even anxiously adjusted; and further, that the inlet of fresh air from without, and the outlet of vitiated air from within, should be left as free as possible for the operation of kind Nature's fundamental desire to bring down the one by gentle force to every spot where it is wanted, and to bear the other upward and away. It is true that the human structure is endowed with a wonderful measure of endurance against darkness and suffocation, but it is the architect's duty that the presence of these baleful influences shall not be due to him. He must therefore take every care that hi- windows shall he, both in position and size, quite adequate to the work they have to do; not extravagantly large (because of the consequent heat and cold), but sufficiently large, and also judiciously placed; in fact, the window design of a dwelling is so far the light and air of the (Swelling, and greatly affects its salubrity.
Spaciousness and Compactness- - To accomplish economy of space, and yet avoid cramping the plan, is of course a work of skill, and a result to be greatly commended. For compactness in most cases means both convenience and comfort, and a rambling arrangement inconvenience and discomfort At the same time, the element of spaciousness or general roominess may certainly be coupled with that of compactness without any real sacrifice; while, on the other hand, confined and narrowed arrangements in detail may often be found associated with a disjointed and wasteful general plan.
Nothing has to be said here in the way of advocating mere elegance of proportions or artistic style as a consideration in the design of the plan of a dwelling; but what is worthy of remark is that the enthusiasm for fine-art has been somewhat too apt at times to compromise the utilities of housebuilding. Surface-embellishments may be lavishly employed in the interior without being complained of, but when the elementary conveniences of home-life are sacrificed to the fanciful demands of a fashionable archaeological mode, objection surely may be raised. Fashionable Greek and fashionable Gothic having now both had their day, we may safely allude to the fact that they were both uncomfortable; and we may add that when an architect, who wishes to be in the fashion now, feels bound to insist upon having small windows purposely obscured, or upon introducing picturesque little flights of steps where no steps should be, his client need not hesitate to request, with all respect for genius, that he would be so obliging as to reserve such amenities for some more appreciative client.
There is a perfectly legitimate offer of choice in respect of the general plan of a house. That is to say, it may be laid out on principles of picturesqueness, quaintness, irregularity, and surprise; or on principles of regularity, symmetry, and repose. It is enough to add that some people prefer the one style, and some the other, as matter of sentiment; and that comfort, convenience, and salubrity may he fully achieved in either; subject only to this consideration, that even stateliness may have its drawbacks, as eccentricity unquestionably has. For good ordinary middle-class residences, the simple "square house" plan, so generally adopted by the last generation, is abundantly exemplified in suburban localities all over the country, with its central entrance-porch, hall, and staircase, dining-room and offices on one side, and drawing-room, etc., on the other. The manifest advantages here are symmetry, simplicity, and compactness. But the present generation prefers greater freedom of arrangement, the rooms must be disposed more independently, declining the restraints of symmetry, and the grouping may go as it pleases. The benefits of liberty are still evident, but we have to guard against equally obvious temptations.