Editor's Letter: Poetry in Motion

Our editor contemplates life in a house not designed for modern living.

Editor's Letter: Poetry in Motion

Our editor contemplates life in a house not designed for modern living.

It’s our fourth anniversary issue! Happy birthday to Here!

The irony of running this magazine is that just before we put out the first issue in June 2020, we moved into a 1907 bay villa that was designed – well, let’s be honest, it was more likely assembled from a kitset of parts to a standard layout – for a different time.

We never wanted a villa. We just wanted to live in the inner-city and that was the only thing going. We do have all the grace of tall ceilings and airy rooms that are pleasingly square, and lovely timber floors. But we also have a narrow hallway onto which all the bedrooms open, junctions where everyone seems to jam together (the more so now that the children are nine and seven, rather than five and three) and a house that was built for how it presented to the street, rather than for how we use it now.

We also lose the afternoon sun in a way that I wish we didn’t. We often talk about the glory of following the sun in our old place, which had windows that traced the light from sunrise to sunset, and places to sit on either side. (It was brutal on furniture and you had to be careful of where you hung the art... but the sun!) In this place, it’s murky from about 4pm. Our bedroom receives glorious light, but we had to put air-con in the office.

I was chatting with a friend the other day about this, when she came up with a blinder of a theory. The “wrong” side of the street, she reckoned – in other words, the south – would have been the more desirable one when the house was built, because the sun hit the verandah and the front rooms, which were the bits you actually used. And if you look at this street, that’s largely true: on our side is a line of aspirational bay villas, the dream of the overburdened middle class 120 years ago. On the other side: much more modest cottages.

So maybe it’s not surprising that I often find myself thinking about movement through houses – houses that have been properly designed or redesigned. Houses which have given thought as to how you might live and, most importantly, how you and the sun might move through a space over the course of the day.

The houses in this issue, of course, take care of the basics that our lovely old pile fails at, but they also do more. They take the humdrum, essential needs of their occupants and transcend the everyday, creating moments to pause, moments to contemplate: a spot in the sun for an hour; a view to a neighbouring maunga; a hallway that curves and softens the light. They are the moments in which just moving through a space starts to create poetry.

And that, in a nutshell, is why we keep making this magazine. We hope you enjoy it.


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