Tiger's Tragic House?

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Tiger WoodsI don't know what drove Tiger Woods out of his house at 2:30 a.m. But I'm guessing the house was part of the problem.

Have you seen the bird's-eye photos of Tiger's lair? It's a behemoth -- there's enough roof for an airplane hangar -- except it has more angles than an origami caterpillar.

The man is known for fluidity, grace -- but his house is overbearing, overwrought. It's not a golfer; it's a linebacker (on steroids).

But it isn't the style of the house that may have sent Tiger fleeing. It's the agglomeration of space into a single volume. Everyone has been in one of these McMansions -- vast, but without the feeling that you can ever get away. Huge archways link every space to every other space. No room feels separate or enclosed.

Tiger, like lots of Americans, has plenty of square footage -- but no real room to breathe.

If he had lived in a compound house (shown below), he might have just slammed one door, then opened another, getting away (from whoever or whatever was bugging him) while staying off the road.

Compound houses are houses made of multiple small buildings. One building might have a living room and famly room. Another might contain the master bedroom. Still others, the kitchen and dining area, the children's bedrooms, media rooms. The parts of a compound house may be connected by covered walkways, or even enclosed walkways depending on climate. But despite the connectors, the pieces feel like discrete buildings.

The architectural impulse is centrifugal (the force that makes things spread out), not centripetal (the force that concentrates things in the middle). Think of it as a kind of family village.

Compound houses hark back to a time when women were in the main house, and men had shops or barns to work in.

If Tiger needed to slam a door, and leave the house -- so be it. But with a compound house, he could have slammed one door, then gone right ahead and opened another door. Without ever getting in his car.

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