The Living House

Repairing spaces, learning to build.

The Living House combines anthropology and personal experience, travel and ethnography. In a quest for the profound meaning of living, the author tells us that houses are alive and invites us to rethink our way of seeing ourselves in space.

By mapping out the different ways in which the Earth can be inhabited, Staid invites us on a journey to see the typical ways of life of other societies and cultures, and tells how the house of the future will be dictated by hybridisation rather than by western urban standards.

In ten years of travelling, the author came across a wide range of styles of conceiving, building and inhabiting a house: from the goahti of the Sami in Scandinavia, covered with turf and canvas, to the logs of the Russian izba cabins, to the black tents of the nomads of the Middle East. “Other peoples’” houses are made of materials that are available locally, easily transportable and environmentally friendly. The people who build them, often with the help of the community they belong to, have a plan in mind, a project that includes dreams and future plans. They do not engage others to envision the house they are going to live in.

The nostalgia of anthropologists? Totally unfeasible in our suffocating, urbanised times? Not at all. A growing number of architects and engineers are intrigued by the wide variety of human dwellings.

Staid’s heartfelt appeal to change our way of living is not made to the building specialists primarily. Each of us should reclaim the ability to envision how to inhabit a place.