Gonçalo M. Tavares 

Corners are the convergence of two walls, two forces, two energies once sketched on paper and now elevated to the status of physical elements.

The corner of a house is the result of a romantic encounter, a kind of chaste material kiss.

Two vertical elements (two walls, two bipedal architectural elements which have risen up from the ground, leaving behind the realm of crawlers), two elements which grew from the ground up, are there, have met, intersected, and rather than attack each other have, surprisingly, sought mutual understanding. Indeed, a corner is the product of an understanding between two walls. They could have continued, each on its own path, but decided instead to stay put; reining in their momentum, they formed a corner, a shelter of sorts, a hiding place.

This, then, is the genesis of the corner. Two intersecting straight lines form an angle; when the angle gains height, it becomes a corner, and when the corner gains a roof, it becomes a shelter. The corners of homes are sheltered angles, prime locations for children playing at hide and seek. In fact, corners are the domain of children. Corners always seem to age less than the centre, the core of the home.

But corner and centre are two players in the same game. The corner looks towards the centre, observing it. The centre of the room is observed. The corner is hidden, while the centre is on full display – the star of the show. The corner is a lookout post.

They are like two opposing elements: the centre is where people converge, the corner is deserted. The centre is a hub of movement, the corner is the least frequented part of the room. But it is, for this very reason, a place of great intimacy. The centre of the home is a venue for parties, the corner is a place of secrets. No one seeks out the centre of a party to tell a secret, but sometimes the circumstances of human conviviality give rise to corners in the most materially unpredictable places. For example, when a person leads another by the sleeve of their coat through the hustle and bustle of a party and, leaning close, tells them a secret, at that particular moment in time those two people form a new corner; an ephemeral one, a corner existing not in space, but only in time: a human corner. That is the law: where a secret is told, a corner is formed.

Therefore, the real, material corners of a home are in truth receptacles of potential secrets, of potential confidences. A simple room, with four corners, has four potential secrets – one, two, three, four. And yes, of course, out there in the wide world there are rounded corners; corners which seem to usher in another kind of human interaction. The shape of corners provides a clue as to how people interact among themselves. Every civilisation has its own corners.

Finally, a few practical points. You should not fill corners with junk or rubbish. You should not fill corners with useless items you doubt you will ever use again. You should fill corners… by not filling them. That is to say, you should fill corners with nothing at all. You should leave them empty. The corners of a home are the refuge within the refuge, the smallest cave inside the protective cavern of the house. This hiding place, this ultimate shelter, is an empty space with the capacity to accommodate a human body. That is what a corner should be, and that is how corners should remain. In waiting; like someone who can, at any moment, offer protection.