I worked in Singapore for a while and Feng Shui was popular there, it is growing in popularity here and elswhere. I am sceptical about it but having worked with clients who are concerned about Feng Shui I have become more sensitive to the idea of space as something that can alter the mood of people within it. A Feng Shui example of this would be not sleeping under a beam. In reality this isn’t a problem but the thought of that weight bearing down over you can be unsettling. A more abstract consideration would be forces or spirits moving into a house and for this reason Feng Shui avoids strong axis’ leading to an arrival point or travelling through a living area. Often the placing of entrances is at an angle or has some symbol to ward off that energy. Again, from my prosaic viewpoint, this is nonsensical but if you are in a room that is off to one side of a thoroughfare it does feel more private and peaceful and this can only be good for the soul.

Another strong influence that has shaped my feelings towards space is the hindu based architecture of Bali. Towns, villages and buildings (houses, palaces and temples) in Bali are all sensitive to their orientation with the clean, cerebral part of the planning being towards Mount Agung and the utilitarian, earthy planning towards the sea. A better explanation of this is here http://bali-article.blogspot.com.au/2008/10/layout-of-compound-in-balinese.html . Additionally buildings were historically single storey to avoid having ‘unclean’ feet above ‘sacred’ heads. This relationship of bodies in space or in a setting I find fascinating. Again I am sceptical but I do feel more comfortable personally sleeping on an upper floor away from street level activity, I suspect it is because of an almost unconscious feeling of safety and privacy. The final Balinese influence is the Balinese peoples cultural habit of making offerings to spirits or Gods and placing them at meaningful points around the house. A balinese friend told me that without doing this they feel unsettled during the day. Again I’m sceptical about this but I do understand that if you embue an item with a spiritual power and that item is in the house then it would affect the person who believes in it. This could be seen as ‘mess’ having a negative spirit and therefore people feel happier in a space where that spirit is removed – because ‘mess’ is rarely a physical problem.

Why do I mention all this? Because last night my son and I in the presence of A made a ‘Happy House’ totem out of twigs leaves and string. My son wrote happy house on a leaf and this was tossed into the reinforcement and incorporated into the slab. A was slightly embarassed by this episode but the concreters were happy with it.