What qualities are missing in our homes?
How can we regain them?
Howard Mansfield looks at things that were once ordinary in the home, like the hearth and rooms without clutter, and he looks at homes swept away by disasters and war. He visits a relief effort in the long aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to get a sharper sense of the fragility of our dwellings and our strong commitment to making a home. He confronts the legacy of the World War II firebombing campaigns that left Europe in ruins and gave rise to three distinctly different writers who sought to restore the sanctity of home. On footpaths and in the hidden lives of many sheds, Mansfield courts the spirit of good places that Christopher Alexander calls “the quality without a name.” We can recognize this elusive quality, and yet we find it very difficult, if not impossible, to create this feeling in our new houses and in our towns and cities.
In short, Howard Mansfield opens many doors, just as he did when he was a census taker who had his own set of questions: “I could go from house to house clear across the country, knock on doors, and ask, Can I come in? Look around? What’s your favorite room? Your latest house project? I’d like to see them all.”