Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/79

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AS implied in the title, my subject is not house-building itself, as such, but only certain arrangements for health and comfort therein. House-building has at least two aspects—architectural and sanitary. The former belongs exclusively to your own profession, but the latter comes within the sphere of the medical profession also. It is the architect's province to provide dwellings for the people, and to see that they are made protective and safe; and it is part of the medical man's province to help to make them healthy and comfortable. In this respect the medical profession has lately been very forcibly reminded of its duty by Mr. George Atchison, who said: "No greater benefit could be conferred on mankind than the teaching them the necessity of ventilation, but that lesson is more likely to be learned if it come from the doctor than from the architect.... Until the faculty can convince the people that their life is shortened and serious diseases are brought on by want of ventilation, architects have no chance."

House-building being the point in which the duties of the architect and the physician meet, it becomes necessary that architects and medical men should occasionally discuss together the requirements involved in this art. Much public and much mutual benefit would, I am sure, result from such a practice. The object I have now in view is to invite your consideration of a few conditions of house-building that I deem of particular importance in a sanitary and medical point of view.

In building a dwelling-house, the conditions I deem of essential importance are the following:

1. That the house shall be so placed as to be as much as possible exposed to the fresh air and sunlight; because fresh air and sunlight are essential to the health, and growth, and life of the occupants. The site, therefore, should be rather elevated, if not absolutely, at all events in comparison with the surrounding objects.

2. That it shall be absolutely free from damp; because a damp house is a most potent, and active, and ever-present cause of disease, especially of rheumatism, neuralgia, colds, coughs, consumption, and such like. The site, therefore, if not naturally dry, must be rendered so by means of asphalt or cement, throughout the foundation, and the roof, and gutters, and drainage must be perfect. All the house-drains should terminate outside the house on an open grid or trap; that is, they should be cut off from the street drain, and they should be ventilated by having a pipe run up from every soil-pipe and every bend in the house.

  1. From a paper read at the Royal Institute of British Architects, Liverpool.