Witold Rybczynski takes us on an extraordinary odyssey as he tells the story of designing and building his own house. His project began as a workshed, but through a series of "happy accidents," the structure gradually evolved into a full-fledged house. In tracing this evolution, he touches on matters both theoretical and practical, writing on such diverse topics as the ritualistic origins of the elements of classical architecture and the connections between dress and habitation. He discusses feng-shui and considers the theories of such architects as Palladio, Le Corbusier, and Frank Lloyd Wright. An eloquent examination of the links between being and building, The Most Beautiful House in the World offers insights into the joys of "installing ourselves in a place, of establishing a spot where it would be safe to dream."
In this personal recollection, Rybczynski concentrates mostly on the architecture bit, enlightening readers to the core ideas of feng shui, the process of designing, architectural history as well as famous architects. Curiously absent are any mentions of building codes and permits as well as financial aspects. Not missing are trivia about Rybczynski and his life, and a rather preposterous lineage of great writers and their houses, in whose company the author places himself. To get to the morsels about architecture, one has to listen to the Rybczynskiana. Overall, it's not bad, especially his short introduction to domestic architecture. Tracy Kidder's House, however, gives a much closer and humane report of the building process.