The study of the Robinson Crusoe house in an architectural context was a unique endeavour. Instead of having a physical manifestation of an architecture, we had to consider the structures and spaces in literary form. In digesting the text for motives, programs, and functions of the Robinson Crusoe house, it became apparent that the house was as much as a literary narrative device as a setting and situation of the plot.
Robinson Crusoe's shelters transitioned in accordance with his basic needs; first, protection and safety, then shelter from the elements, then storage, leisure, and the need for work. The construction of the shelter and the many additions is a needs-based progression of development in the timeline of the story that grows more complex as Robinson Crusoe's development of a civilization emerges.
As with all good literature, the story of Robinson Crusoe demonstrates a great deal of the author's interpretations of his own epochal timeline. Throughout the course of his life, Defoe met the British colonial expansion, crumbling economic conditions, and an unstable royal monarchy with dissent. He challenged the politics and cultural conditions of London and abroad. As a Puritan and a Catholic Dissenter, Defoe carried with him strong ideals about the nature of civilization. These ideals found the perfect setting for manifestation in the shipwreck tale of survival he would write in the later years of his life.
Many of the ideals and themes explored in the novel are representative of Defoe's historical era, and it was a fascinating experience to explore the translation of this history into literature, then in architecture.