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Witold Rybczynski of Polish parentage, was born in Edinburgh in 1943, raised in Surrey, and attended Jesuit schools in England and Canada. He received Bachelor of Architecture (1960) and Master of Architecture (1972) degrees from McGill University in Montreal. He is the author of more than fifty articles and papers on the subject of housing, architecture, and technology, including the books Taming the Tiger, Paper Heroes, The Most Beautiful House in the World, Waiting for the Weekend, and Looking Around: A Journey Through Architecture (all available in Penguin), and most recently, City Life. He lives with his wife, Shirley Hallam, in Philadelphia and is the Martin and Margy Myerson Professor of Urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania.
In a loosely configured essay, Rybczynski (Architecture, McGill Univ.) discusses the idea of comfort and the Western cultural attitudes that have shaped it since the end of the middle ages. Rather than dealing with the technical aspects of architecture, he reviews such cultural variables as intimacy and privacy, domesticity, ease, and ideas about light, air, and efficiency as they have changed over time. Essentially Rybczynski makes a plea for the primacy of cultural ideals as a basis for creating psychologically comfortable homes. Though he is selective in his history and examples, this is a worthwhile counterweight to the all-too-common technical practices of modern architects. Recommended. Jack Perry Brown, Ryerson & Burnham Libs., Art Inst. of Chicago
"Here is a book that will change thew ay you look at your house or apartment--for the better." --People"Rybczynski's style is as loose and, yes, as comfortable as a down-filled comforter." --The Christian Science Monitor "Sensible and stylish" --Newsweek "It's a bracing, irreverent, worldly wise book." --Cleveland Plain Dealer "Home is serious, historically minded, and exquisitely readable. It is a triumph of intelligence." --The New Yorker