Based on the book Home: A Short History of an Idea, what is comfort? This book was written in 1986.  Is comfort today different than it was in 1986?

gsenviro | Student

Witold Rybczynski's Home: A Short History of an Idea discusses how comfort has been lost in the modern approach and how modern architects fail to provide any comfort, thus reducing a dwelling to a house and not a home. As Rybczynski writes,

"Comfort is, at the same time, something simple and complex. It includes several transparent layers of meaning-privacy, well-being and convenience- some deeper than others."

That is to say that comfort is a state of having some privacy from each other and the environment, something that ensures well-being (perhaps by the use of technology and design) and provides convenience, say by modifications, technology, etc. All these attributes in a dwelling will make it a home. Examples are single-family homes rather than joint-family structures, separate family and work areas, and design improvements to increase ventilation and reduce indoor air pollution (esp. from use of chimneys, etc.). He also mentions that modern architecture is losing a sense of comfort as it provides more utilitarian dwellings. 

In the last three decades since the arrival of this book, comfort has evolved in meaning. We are seeing a greater shift towards nuclear families and unfortunately, with rising costs and standards of living, both partners are working and spend less time at home and with family. This has led to neglect of domestic comforts; what is considered comfortable today would be dismissed by the arguments of Rybczynski. We spend more time on our mobile phones and e-book readers than actual books and friends. We are more prone to snacks and fast-foods than preparing something in the kitchen. Kitchens suffer (and so does our health and comfort). The definition of comfort has evolved and contrasts with the thoughts of Rybczynski.

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