House and home are words routinely used to describe where and how one lives. This book challenges predominant definitions and argues that domesticity fundamentally satisfies the human need to create and inhabit a defined place in the world. Consequently, house and home have performed numerous cultural and ontological roles, and have been assiduously represented in scripture, literature, art, and philosophy. This book presents how the search for home in an unpredictable world led people to create myths about the origins of architecture, houses for their gods, and house tombs for eternal life. Turning to more recent topics, it discusses how writers often used simple huts as a means to address the essentials of existence; modernist architects envisioned the capacity of house and home to improve society; and the suburban house was positioned as a superior setting for culture and family. Throughout the book, house and home are critically examined to illustrate the perennial role and capacity of architecture to articulate the human condition, position it more meaningfully in the world, and assist in our collective homecoming.
"With this book Thomas Barrie offers us neither a guide to how to build, nor a history of domestic architecture, nor a survey of significant houses, although a concern with all three informs his discussion of house and home. At issue is something more fundamental: the need for both physical and spiritual shelter that is inseparable from human being; the way houses and thoughts about houses, especially in literature, have articulated changing convictions concerning how human beings should take their place in the world, how they should relate to an encompassing reality, to others, and to themselves. Aware of the countless directions such articulations have taken, of the historical roots of our idealization of the suburban home, Barrie does not attempt to formulate some other ideal that would provide our building with a direction; instead his study of house and home calls attention to timeless themes that responsible building must consider, such as the tension between the need to be placed and the demands of freedom, between the need for privacy and the need for community, the place of the dead in our lives, the bond that ties the domestic to the sacred. Thus he has given us a prolegomenon to responsible building." - Karsten Harries, Howard H. Newman Professor of Philosophy, Yale University, USA
"In this learned study, Thomas Barrie takes us beyond contemporary civilization’s limited and individualistic assumptions of home and house as mere bastions of privacy, to reveal how the concepts respond to our human need for meaning – for dwelling in place and with others. His meditations through diverse historical and topical examples are invaluable for anyone concerned with building and inhabiting a world resonant with humanity’s existential questions." - Alberto Pérez-Gómez, author and professor, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
Prologue | The Problem of House and Home | Topics, Themes, and Analytical Methods 1. Homelessness and Homecoming | Cultural Contexts, Ontological Roles, and the Task of Architecture 2. A Home in the World | House and Home in Literature 3. Origins | Stories and Theories about the First House 4. Sacred Domesticities | Houses for Divinity, Divinity of Home 5. House Tombs | Domestic Abodes and Memorials 6. Materializing the Immaterial | The House as a Means of Self-exploration and Expression 7. Domestic Ideologies | Modernism, Postmodernism, and the House 8. Domestic Cultures | The Twentieth-century House and Suburb Epilogue | Making a Home in the World Notes Index