House Form and Culture is a classic book by Amos Rapoport, first published in 1969, that explores the relationship between culture and the built environment. Rapoport, an architect and anthropologist, argues that house form is not merely a product of physical forces or any single causative factor, but rather a result of a complex spectrum of socio-cultural influences understood in their broadest terms. He examines how different factors such as religion, beliefs, customs, economics, climate, materials, and technology affect the shape, size, layout, and organization of dwellings and settlements across various cultures and regions.
The book is divided into three parts. The first part introduces the concept of house form and culture, and discusses the nature of the evidence and the methods of analysis. The second part presents a typology of house forms based on four main categories: sociopsychological factors, defense factors, economic factors, and environmental factors. The third part explores some implications and applications of the typology for architecture and planning. Rapoport uses a large number of examples and illustrations from different parts of the world to support his arguments and demonstrate the diversity and complexity of house forms.
One of the main contributions of the book is that it challenges the conventional view of architecture as a universal and rational discipline that can be applied to any context regardless of cultural differences. Rapoport shows that architecture is a cultural phenomenon that reflects and expresses the values, meanings, and preferences of its users. He also shows that architecture is not static but dynamic, changing over time in response to changing needs and circumstances. He advocates for a more sensitive and contextual approach to architecture and planning that respects and accommodates the cultural diversity of human societies.
House Form and Culture is a seminal work that has influenced many scholars and practitioners in the fields of architecture, anthropology, geography, sociology, and urban studies. It is still relevant today as it offers valuable insights into the cultural dimensions of architecture and the importance of understanding the human factors that shape the built environment. The book is available as a PDF file online from various sources[^1^] [^2^] [^3^]. Page 193 contains a table that summarizes the main types of house forms according to Rapoport's typology.
The book has been widely praised for its originality, breadth, and depth of analysis, as well as its rich and diverse examples. It has also been criticized for its lack of empirical evidence, its overgeneralization, and its neglect of some important factors such as politics, power, and history. Some reviewers have also questioned Rapoport's classification of house forms and his assumptions about culture and human behavior. Despite these limitations, the book remains a valuable and influential contribution to the field of environmental design and behavior.
Since the publication of House Form and Culture, many studies have followed Rapoport's approach and explored the cultural dimensions of house form and domestic space in different contexts and times. Some examples are: Place and Placelessness by E.C. Relph (1976), Social Situations by M. Argyle et al. (1981), The Meaning of the Built Environment by A. Rapoport (1982), Home: A Short History of an Idea by W. Rybczynski (1986), The Cultural Dimension of Architecture by B. AlSayyad (1991), House as a Mirror of Self by C.G. Jung (1995), The Anthropology of Space and Place by S.M. Low and D. Lawrence-Zuniga (2003), and The Culture of Architecture in Enlightenment Rome by H. Mallgrave (2010).
These studies have shown that house form and culture are not static but dynamic phenomena that change over time and space according to various factors such as social change, technological innovation, environmental adaptation, cultural diffusion, and individual creativity. They have also shown that house form and culture are not only influenced by culture but also influence culture in return, creating a feedback loop that shapes both the physical and the symbolic aspects of human life. House form and culture are thus seen as complex and interrelated processes that reflect and express the identity, values, meanings, and preferences of individuals and groups. aa16f39245