Townhouses: urbanity vs. privacy, played out in New York, Baltimore, and Bruges for centuries

From Brooklyn Magazine writer Henry Stewart: "In homage to the voyeuristic artwork of Shizuka Yokomizo, we sent Harlan Erskine to Park Slope to see if its browstone dwellers would let us photograph their home interiors through their curtainless windows. He left the following note at dozens of Park Slope brownstones. “I am a Brooklyn-based photographer and would love to photograph the exterior of your home for a photo story referencing the work of Shizuka Yokomizo. In the acknowledgement to Shizuka’s ‘Distance’ piece, the essay places the same amount of emphasis on the design of the home as it does as the participation of the resident. Therefore, I would like to call on you in hopes that you might participate in this feature, to leave your lower level lights on from the hours of 10pm-11pm TONIGHT and arrange the apartment as you would like it to be seen. I would also encourage you to engage in the space or in front of the window if you too would like to be photographed."  Full article with more photos here.

An interesting reminder of small-scale urban housing's uneasy relationship with its surrounding urbanity.  However, such friction has in turn produced its own art forms, such as the screen paintings of Baltimore or (my theory) the coveted lace of Belgium, which was hung centuries ago in the ground-floor windows of townhouses in the Low Countries, first for privacy, then as a sign of high class.  A contemporary example of the quest for privacy is the "rain screen" facade designed by architect Peter Gluck for this townhouse in New York.  (Photo credit: Harlan Erskine.)