House Form and Culture: What have we Learnt in Thirty Years?
The design and use of houses reflect certain cultural and social beliefs, ideas, meanings and values. In A. Rapoport's own words, House Form and Culture was meant to be "an exploratory study" of the ways in which people construct and use domestic space. This chapter examines how cultural dimensions are attributed to and expresses in the design, meaning and uses of houses in contemporary societies. It presents an overview and critique of large contributions. It outlines and comments on the underlying theoretical and methodological frameworks that have guided research in both broad classes of studies. Like C. Despres and P. Somerville it suggests that owing to selective and interpretative biases it has been extremely difficult to develop and apply a comparative perspective. The chapter argues that because contemporary architectural orthodoxy only considers buildings in terms of their appearance, it is a restrictive interpretation of context and contextualism that ignores cultural, societal and historical dimensions.