How we feel at home - seven characteristics

Carsten Schjøtt Philipsen, PhD, has identified seven characteristics of a sense of home. The thesis is a study of the sense of home in modern society, where we are more "on" and where we have immediate access to the outside world. He explores what it means to feel at home and how this feeling is established. The seven characteristics can contribute greatly to raising awareness of how we can create architecture that is based on the people who will use the spaces.

The seven characteristics are:

  • Absence of stress
  • Reduced attention
  • Control over close environment
  • Freedom from the rules of others
  • Acknowledgement of one's presence
  • Possibility to withdraw
  • Use of personal items

It is essential to understand that the list does not function as a checklist, but as a way to organize the points related to the sense of home. The seven are interrelated, and some are almost pre-requisite to others. There is no hierarchy, but the seven must be present to a greater or lesser degree to achieve the feeling of home. The research is based on qualitative observations and interviews with people from different social groups, and will help to gain insight into the 'normal' and 'extreme' experience of living. In other words, Philipsen explores what it means to feel at home in modern society.

The thesis thus offers some intriguing perspectives on how we have become more rootless or alienated from the social world in which we live. Globalisation has an impact on our sense of place and home. In addition, space is being compressed because distances are losing their meaning as it has become easy to transport oneself around physically and virtually.