More than personal taste, however, the framed view of a house and garden expressed individual identity. Taste, after all, was subject to a collective fashion. Taste is intersubjective. A house did not just mirror individual taste; in particular it represented communal and social habits and customs. Taste, as a collective idea, always implies a context. When this context changes, because of changing social rituals, this also influences architectural developments. At the same time, the new taste of home design represented distinction and status. Having taste makes you belong to a larger whole. Taste is to be regarded, then, from the perspective of inclusion: wanting to be included in a changing yet hierarchical society. The experience of the framed view and the positioning of Lararia are reflective of the taste of the master of the house; and therefore these had to be shown and shared with the visitors whom he gave access to his house.
It is important for me to know that the framed view of atrium houses went hand in hand with their user function, represented in the salutatio ritual. The one was at the service of the other, mutually reinforcing each other. It is also interesting for me to know that this also represented a particular portrait of an era in which the salutatio was common. After all, the spaces designed for it around the atrium, such as the tablinum and the alae, vanished to make room for new representational practices in the garden. The hortus and the peristylium thereby suggested a more informal character than the former atrium, and this paved the way for receptions and parties in designated, flexible places. This gave rise, in other words, to multifunctional party spaces and dining rooms, oeci and summer triclinia. An important factor thereby was the principle of framed view, and the vista’s created specifically by reasoning from the experience of user. The latter appeals to me because the user could apply ever more liberties with regard to the design of his house, thus gradually developing an identity of his own. When the salutatio and the interrelated architectural rules disappeared to make room for individual experience, which in turn gave rise to individually created framed views, the identity of user and place became visible.
More or less separation of public and private domains is inherent to the social context. Similarly, crossing is determined by developments in this context. It is an essential part of the identity of the user and his place. Social function and individual design, ritual and use go hand in hand in the classic atrium house. At the intersection of public interests and private needs, there is room for individual identity, which is anchored in the geographical and social standing of its residents.
Crossing. Living in Rome, dying in Pompeii
Final evening as promised: Canova on the Piazza del Popolo. Enjoying the square and its busy traffic one more time: quarreling taxi drivers, stylish ladies with dressed up dogs, grumbling tourists, parading schoolgirls, men talking into their cell phones… Human crossing from all directions on the Piazza del Popolo, the large atrium behind the similarly named gate, the vestibulum of Rome, at the end of the Via Flaminia. All sorts and sizes, a color palette of people, from ramblers to hotel guests – all are passers-by on a lively square. As social and geographical heart, the square encloses you after you passed through the gate. Once inside you need to find your own way, choose your own direction. Welcome to Rome! (Note in the margin, 22-10-10)
Penelope M. Allison, The Casa della Caccia Antica, Band 11/VII 4, 48, (Munich: Hirmer Verlag, 2002)
Jens-Arne Dickmann, Domus Frequentata. Anspruchsvolles Wohnen in pompejanischen Stadthaus (Munich: Verlag Dr. Friedrich Pfeil, 1999)
Kees Peterse, Steinfachwerk in Pompeji. Bautechnik und Architektur (Amsterdam: J.C. Gieben, 1999)
Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, Houses and Society in Pompeii and Herculaneum (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1994)