The word 'home', to quote Dickens, 'is a strong one, stronger than magicians ever spoke?'.
Home carries with it so much cultural baggage and the weight of ideas (not to mention ideals), and suggests more than mere built form. After all, for a sailor, 'home' is the ship; for a mountaineer, a tent - at least for the period of the activity in question. Home implies safety, comfort and familiarity in the sense of being with people and in surroundings you know and are relaxed about.
It could be said that home is about being allowed to be who you really are, about being able to lower the various facades we erect to ward off the worst excesses of the world. In this context, that most famous of sayings, 'an Englishman's home is his castle', is rooted not in a physical manifestation but in an ideal.
Unfortunately, for even the most resolute of John Bull's children, this ideal can become stretched when the aforementioned castle is 12 storeys in the air and surrounded on three sides by other castles, and, of course, you don't have to be English to have your personal space invaded. What seems to help, apart from quality of construction (primarily to mitigate the passage of noise), is differentiation.
In the Netherlands, two schemes seek to redress the downside of high densities by offering real choice to the prospective residents. This flexibility is afforded by the adoption of modern methods of construction and by providing a design 'front end' to the process. On the one hand, a questionnaire (multiple choice, pages 11-13), on the other a consultation (Flexline, pages 4-6). Both methods ensure an element of participation in the design based on the capabilities of the product.
The results are highly relevant to a UK market that has yet to fully embrace what could be an incredibly powerful tool.
Now, where did I put that drawbridge schedule?