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HOUSE OR HOME? The difference is small yet significant. This document explores the many different aspects that are related to the ‘home’. Within this text, theories of home are explored based on an extended review of literature. They are studied and compared to each other as well as primary research that has been undertaken on what ‘home’ means to others.


  • 1HOUSE OR HOME?Abbie Sobik

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  • 3HOUSE OR HOME?Abbie Sobik

    House or home? The difference is small yet significant. This document explores the many different aspects that are related to the home. Within this text, theories of home are explored based on an extended review of literature. They are studied and compared to each other as well as primary research that has been undertaken on what home means to others.

    The home is considered to have a strong relationship with consumption. This document reflects upon the role of domestic consumption in the construction of individual and col-lective identities. Acquisition and use of objects is also discussed when considering how a psychological attachment is formed between the owner and possessions.

    The influence of the architect is examined with reference to case studies. It is queried whether the material and architectural attributes have an affect on what structures can be made into a home. In conclusion, this document proposes that home is a psychological as well as a physical term built upon many elements one of which may be a house.

  • House or Home?

    This document will explore the difference between the meanings of house and home. According to the Oxford Dictionary the house is defined as a building for human habitation, one that is lived in by a family or small group of people1 and a home as the place of residence where one lives permanently especially as a member of a family or household.2 Although these are very similar and do not give a clear distinction there is a noticeable difference. It suggests that a house is a built form that contains your belongings where as a home is where you live your life and an emotional connection takes place. As the home is so familiar, it has many different aspects to define and research. Each of these aspects will be examined to help understand what creates this emotional connection to define what a home is and what it means to others.

    The home is an extremely subjective topic and has been studied by many. The first chapter, The Place of Home will assess the existing theories highlighting what it is that they consider establishes a home. The theorists that are studied include Martin Heidegger, Edward Relph, Reyner Banham and Mary Douglas. They each have conflicting ideas of the home that touch upon the topics of place attachment, consumption and practice. A questionnaire will also be conducted as an extension to my research that will allow me to find out what the word home means to the general public. The results may reiterate the beliefs of the theorists or contradict them; whichever will ultimately help me conclude the statement in question.

    It is argued that the home is imaged on many different levels, it is known in terms of location, material, furnishing and services. The role of consumption on domestic dwellings is explored in order to establish if it has a significant impact on deciphering the difference between house and home.

    Within this chapter it is questioned how consumption can construct and become a representation of individual identity, as well as collective meaning. Acquisition and use of objects are both looked at when discussing how psychological attachments are made and the importance of having these familiar possessions in ones environment. Through this exploration of consumption, cultural issues are also raised discussing how cultural identity provides a collective sense of permanency and security.

    The final chapter of the document will explore the role of the architect in the construction of a home. It is more often than not the architect who has control over the material and architectural attributes of a built form. To understand if these attributes have any impact on what buildings can become a home or not the work of architects such as Le Corbuiser and

    1 Compact Oxford English Dictionary [online] [10th November 2012]2 Compact Oxford English Dictionary [online] home?q=home [10th November 2012]

    HOUSE OR HOME: Abbie Sobik

  • 5Herman Hertzberger are compared. Each of which allow different degrees of contingency to occur to their buildings. This resulted in the exploration of how the architects perception of home may influence the way in which they design domestic structures. Participatory design and expandable housing is also discussed assessing the possibilities of how the building can become an extension of the inhabitants. All of which helps investigate how an emotional attachment can be formed with a built environment.

    Time is another component that is present throughout the document. As mentioned the home is considered as a permanent aspect in an individuals life. Over time can any place become a home? The above aspects will provide me with a greater understanding of the different factors to consider when drawing my own conclusion.

    The Place of Home

    There are many theories on the subject of home; one of which is the aspect of place attachment that is signified by terms such as at-homeness and rootedness.3 Martin Heidegger believes that buildings are single phenomenons that are created by the individuals consciousness out of its rootedness in culture, time and place.4 Place attachment is often defined as an affective bond or link between people and specic places.5 This is often by memory through three component areas, affect which concerns the emotional attachment, cognition that is the perception of the place and practice which involves the behaviours and activities that take place in that particular context.6 For Heidegger it is clear that one can occupy buildings daily but not feel at home in them.

    Bridges and hanger, stadiums and power stations are buildings but not dwellings; railway stations and highways, dams and market halls are built, but they are not dwelling places [...] The truck driver is at home on the highway, but he does not have his shelter there; the working women is at home in the spinning mill, but does not have her dwelling place there; the chief engineer is at home in the power station, but he does not dwell there. These buildings house man. He inhabits them and yet does not dwell in them.7

    3 Elena Windsong. A Mixed Method Analysis of Home Ownership and Place Attachment Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting (San Francisco, CA, Aug 08, 2009)

    4 Barbara Lane. Housing and Dwelling: Perspectives on Modern Domestic Architecture (Oxon; Routledge, 2007) p. 50.5 M. C Hidalgo, B. Hernndez Place attachment: Conceptual and Empirical Questions Journal of Environmental Psychology, 21, (2001), 273281 (p. 274)6 G.T Kyle, A.J Mowen, M Tarrant Linking Place Reference with Place Meaning: An Examination of the Relation-ship between Place Motivation and Place Attachment Journal of Environmental Psychology, 439-454 (p.439)7 Adam Sharr. Heidegger for Architects, (London, Routledge, 2007) p. 38.

  • Edward Relph agrees with Heidegger when he identifies the importance of roots and believes that they give people a point of view, with a spiritual and emotional attachment to a specific place. Relph states, To be attached to places and have profound ties with them is an important human need.8 He developed the idea of insideness, which incorporated the degree of attachment, involvement, and concern, that a person or group has for a particular place.9 Relph suggested that the more profoundly inside a place the person feels, the stronger his or her identity with that place. Relph understands that insideness and sense of place is being inside and belonging to your place both as an individual and as a member of a community, and to know this without reecting upon it.10 The connection between people and place is one that forms over time. The longer you are within a particular environment the stronger ones sense of place will become.

    In juxtaposition to these, Reyner Banham looks at how the modern home is a set of modern appliances and services not bound to any location and therefore essentially rootless.

    When your house contains such a complex of piping, ues, ducts, wires, lights, inlets, outlets, ovens, sinks, refuse disposers, hi- reverberators, antennae, conduits, freezers, heaters when it contains so many services that the hardware could stand up by itself without any assistance from the house, why have a house to hold it up?11

    This also implies that there is no need for shelter as the services themselves create it. Banhams observations are of a utopian nature as he implies he wants to give everyone a standard of living package containing all the necessities of modern life and to do away with all the permanent structures of building, and men would not be constrained by past settlements.12

    8 E. Relph. Place and Placelessness (London, Pion Limited 1976) pp. 38.9 Ibid. pp. 51-55.10 Ibid. p. 65.11 Reyner Banham, A Home Is not a House, illustrated by Franois Dallegret, in William W. Branham, Jonathan A. Hale. Rethinking Technology: A Reader in Architectural Theory (Oxon, Routledge, 2007) p. 168.12 Charles Jencks, Architecture 2000 and Beyond: Success in the Art of Prediction, (Michigan Wiley-Academy, 2000) p. 59.

    HOUSE OR HOME?: Abbie Sobik

  • 7Figure 1 depicts the illustration by Francois Dallegret of Banhams theory of the transportable standard of living package.13 It was designed to allow anyone the power to impose his will on any environment to which the package could be delivered; to enjoy the spatial freedom of the nomadic campre without the smell, smoke, ashes and mess; and the luxuries of ap