By: Sidney Nazario, Unilock Territory Manager
We all have our own ideas of what constitutes personal space. For many people, the concept of personal space may come from the area in which that person lives or was raised. For those of us who are from rural areas, our personal space may consist of acres of green wooded land, complete with rivers, lakes, mountains and the accompanying wildlife. For those of us who were raised in big cities, however, our definition of personal space can literally consist of the inches between your face and the face of the guy next to you on the subway who decided that now is a great time to enjoy an onion bagel. I happen to fall into the latter category, and I consider myself very lucky in this regard.
The city is in my blood. I feel connected to it in a way that is difficult to describe other than to say that I feel incomplete when I am anywhere else. The city teaches you about many things, like an entirely different concept of personal space. Despite our tolerance for overcrowding, even the most ardent city dwellers will at times give in to their basic instincts and seek an escape from the never ending noise and commotion. Those city dwellers who are fortunate enough to be able to claim ownership to a parcel of outdoor space are faced with a dilemma: give in to the fact that your space is hopelessly small and continue to use it as a space to store junk or raise pigeons, or be creative and find a way to transform this impossibly small area into an intimate gathering space for your friends and family.
A client of mine was faced with such a dilemma. His family owned four adjacent plots of land in Brooklyn which by themselves were very small but when combined created the opportunity to build something truly special. The most important step in the process was to enlist a contractor with the vision to create the type of multipurpose outdoor environment that will meet the needs and desires of all of the family members, young and old alike. The homeowner hit a home run by hiring a brilliant young contractor/landscape designer who was able to create an elaborate design that would make maximum use of the limited space available. This contractor recommended the highest quality, most visually appealing products to complement the design.
One full year of construction resulted in a truly unique finished product, which will allow the homeowner access to what can only be described as an urban oasis, complete with a swimming pool, wood burning fireplace, and complete outdoor kitchen. In stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of the world outside their front door, entering this space gives one the feeling of peace, tranquility and isolation, all things that are difficult to find in big cities. The smaller space does not take away from the overall effect of the project. To the contrary, it adds a feeling of coziness and intimacy, and helps to create an environment that is more conducive to the social nature of city dwellers and our desire to connect to one another on a personal level.
I continue to feel that small urban spaces are underappreciated in terms of their ability to deliver the type of impact that is typically thought to only be possible in suburban and rural settings. Smaller city spaces that although diminutive in square footage, still have the capability of offering the urban homeowner access to a precious and scarce commodity: personal space!