Our cities contain complicated networks of spaces. Some spaces are small, some big; some are long and narrow, some wide open; some are bordered by rigid walls, some surrounded by curves and lines. They come up against one another and share edges. In some cases, spaces nestle within each other in irregular patterns. A collection of spaces is still a space; conversely, a single space can always be subdivided into smaller spaces. The building is a collection of rooms. The room has a cooking station, a chopping station, a washing station, and an eating station. The eating station has room for four place settings for people to sit comfortably together, and perhaps six place settings if everyone doesn’t mind getting cozy. And each setting has space for a plate, a bowl, a napkin, a fork, a knife, a spoon, and a glass for a nicer evening meal—and don’t you dare put the fork where the knife is meant to be. But once the table is cleared, there’s no knowing what object will claim that space.
Typically, we consider spaces at a human scale because we use them, live in them, and move through them as humans. We each have our own private spaces. These are our sanctuaries, our private spheres where we can shed the layers of our identities to reveal the truest of ourselves. When we need an escape, this is where we turn to. This is the space that is rarely shared with the outside world. For some of us, that’s a sacred place in the home, perhaps a space for daily ritual. For others, it’s an area bounded by our closest friends, independent of a physical location. For others, it’s a space defined by the place that’s safe enough to rest a weary head in a merciless world. Usually, there is something there that helps ground that space and give it an identity. Without that something or someone, that place would cease to be a zone in which we can uncover our truest selves. And we guard this space carefully—perhaps jealously.