Making space for yourself as human connection

During the pandemic making space for yourself is vital to wellbeing. It's also an opportunity to to pause, step back, see the whole, and build human connection. Making space for all.

It is impossible to overstate the importance of space in our lives.

Space is powerful.

We define space in many ways. Space as metaphor. Space as the immaterial in the physical realm. The space below this line is both a pause and a place.

Space isn’t necessarily white or coloured.

Sometimes it’s silence.
Stillness.
Mental wellbeing.
An idea.
An act.
An offer waiting for acceptance.
It is all these things and more.
Space is rich.
There is levity in space.

As an architect, making space is intrinsic to what I do.
Space in our buildings and cities is often defined but not always contained.
Space in music or art is often as important as the work around it or beside it.
We leave space for things to happen.

As an architect and artist, I’ve been fascinated by space for a long time and over the last few years I’ve been questioning what making space for myself looks like? Not a space, just space.

A documentary on Sydney architect, Richard Leplastrier, introduced me to the Japanese concept of Ma. One of four kinds of Japanese space.

Ma is a concept in Japanese architecture or place making which has to do with all the dimensions of life… It raises the whole issue of anticipation, and timing, and preparation, and not seeing everything at once. Partial view only. That things are revealed over time and through events and the passage of things.

Richard Leplastrier

The complexity in this thinking about space, whilst familiar, was ostensibly beyond anything I had considered before. It piqued my interest. There were two aspects of Ma that caught my eye and worth elucidating. They relate to writing.

The Japanese kanji character for Ma consists of the symbol for door and the symbol for sun. The kanji for Ma is drawn as if the sunlight is spilling through a doorway, delivering life and growth. Ma is drawn and represented as a lit space in time. A space in which life is experienced and one in which we can grow.

Flowing on from this is the Japanese term for human being, which uses the kanji character for person combined with that for place (Ma). Bestowing an idea or understanding of a human not as an individual but as someone that is made up of their relationships, their connections, and part of a greater whole.

Thinking about Ma’s kanji representation and that of human, I wondered how making space might then be an opportunity? An opportunity to pause, step back in order to see the whole and to work on creating something richer, more complex, more connected than a singular personal space. More human.

Instead of making space as a manifestation of making time for myself, what if making space was about taking the opportunity to grow, to build connection and to understand how we each shape the space around us?


Photo by Pixabay on Pexels

Hi! I’m Michael

I’m an architect and coach. I help architects rethink their practice and support them as they uncover better ways to work. I’ve worked in architecture for over 25 years, and I ran my own practice for 14 years. I understand architectural practice from the inside out. Fun Fact: my NSW architect’s registration is #10 007 and I have a license to skill.

I believe improving practice takes asking hard questions and deep listening.

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