The Architecture of Life: The Evolution and Intelligent Design of the Home

The Architecture of Life - Christopher K. Travis

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Evolution and Intelligent Design of the Home

Welcome to the Architecture of Life Blog. This discussion is focused on a subject close to almost everyone’s heart…the home. But we aren’t going to talk about home as simply a building where you hang your clothes.

We'll discuss "home" in all its forms - as a potential project, as an investment, as an eco-system designed to fit its inhabitants, as a personal claim to territory, as an expression of self, and as adaptive evolutionary strategy that is used by many animals on this planet.

But mostly we’ll talk about “home” as an emotional experience. We discuss home as a complex suite of emotions...feelings like comfort, safety, warmth and the deep satisfaction of being with those we love.

For those who have an interest, I am also offering seminars based on the Truehome Workshop beginning in 2009 and take public speaking engagement. For details, look here.

Feel free to post any questions – or answers – you might have yourself. I plan to go on a little journey – a journey of discovery. And I would be honored to have you come along for the ride.

I must warn you, however, that I do post articles on this blog from a gonzo tabloid called the Round Top Register that is better known for satirical commentary and humor, than for a serious subject like the home. So not everything on this blog should be taken seriously.

But honestly, even when I am trying to be funny, there is often something serious behind it. So take your grain of salt...with a grain of salt.

I run an architecture firm and for over twenty-five years was also a historic restoration and remodeling general contractor and custom home builder. I have worked with hundreds of clients to buy, redecorate, remodel their houses, or to design and build a new living space.

One fact was constant in every case. Those clients were not really looking for a particular tile selection or cabinet style, a master bath upgrade or a home on the lake - though they often thought they were.

What they truly wanted was a living space that fit how they lived, who they were, what they loved, the things they owned and most of all, how they wanted to feel!

People want a living space the supports the normal patterns of their lives as they move through each day…and deep down - when they decide to change their living space - they want to change their lives, not just their physical surroundings.

They want the "emotional experience of home".

For most of us, that means we want comfort, relaxation, self-expression, safety and security, a sense of belonging, personal satisfaction, warmth, and rejuvenation.

Those are not criteria for designing a building. Those are emotional goals.

What inspires those feelings differ for each of us. They are nested in our brains and appear in the form of automatic and largely unconscious emotional reactions. Those emotions are caused by hormones and neurotransmitters that are released in response to features and circumstances in our day to day environment.

Identifying these "warm and fuzzy criteria" before changing your living space can save you lots of time and money. Being aware of your responses can protect you from headaches and heartaches. So looking at the nature of the "experience of home" is a discussion worth having.

Here are the questions we will ask in the Architecture of Life blog.

What is a home? How does one create a living space that fits? How can you predict how a new living space will make you feel?

How do professionals – architects, interior designers, builders, real estate professionals – help their clients achieve a home that fits their lifestyle, values, goals and emotional needs?

Where does the “experience of home” come from and how do we create it reliably? Is there a science to creating a home that meets your emotional needs? What is happening in your brain when you “feel at home”?

How do other living things create and use their homes? What can we learn from them? Are there general characteristics to how and why living organisms create homes?

What does it mean that we have a "home planet?" What habits have we developed inside our personal homes - what kind of "house keeping and homemaking" - could help us learn how to be better stewards of our global home?

So join the conversation. We're going home and you're invited to come along.


Violetsareblue said...

I have moved over 35 times in my life..I am now 53. For the past 15 years,or so I have lived on a limited income and had to make a "home" in some less than desirable circumstances. I have tried to explain this idea of a pychological home,to others and I've from time to time helped friends make a home from the treasures or realities they already possessed. My point being,I was so thrilled and interested in reading your thoughts and discoveries on the subject! I heard about you on NPR while listening to Gosling talk about SNOOP, I've already ordered it and sent copies to my adult children. I'm mostly happy to find out I'm not completely without basis for my simple ideas on exactly what a real home feels like.

Chris Travis said...

Hi Shirley,

Thanks for your kind words. However, if you really want to get down to brass tacks about your "psychological home," I would suggest you visit my website at and download the Truehome Workshop. It's just $19.95 (and comes with a free money back guarantee). Its exactly what we use with our clients in the architecture firm I run.

It is a 130+ page color workshop that is for exactly that purpose - no matter what type of project you envision - or if you simply want to know more about your deep relationship with your home.