Last summer, NPR did a series on one of my favorite architectural elements — the front porch. An installment from late July covered the use of the porch in contemporary home-building, specifically in New Urbanist (wikipedia entry) developments, such as Seaside, Florida and other pseudo-quaint "towns". (More on my problems with New Urbanism another time). The most intriguing part of the show, for me, was an allusion to the psychology of the home, and the fact that a large part of recent home-building has focused on the home as a fortress, a defensible space, rather than a vantage from which to observe and interact with the world. This was my introduction to the prospect-refuge concept; prospect representing the ability to survey the surrounding landscape, and refuge serving as a hideaway from the world. It's simplistic, but I like it and I believe it, insofar as I can believe any theoretical concept can describe the fundamental needs of everyday life. Universal Principles of Design has a good overview, with lots of interesting related material as well.