The alternative house of the future
Image by Anicia Pedotti
WOLF Architects are often challenged with how to create more house in less space. With land becoming increasingly valuable we are constantly subdividing, reducing and compressing. This process of making things smaller and tighter will eventually reach a point where it’s just unlivable and if we have to sleep in a coffin we might as well be dead.
Architects around the world have been questioning our built environment and living habits for decades but it’s only in recent times that our ideas are getting noticed. How is a home with three or four living spaces really better than a single well sized one? Does a home theatre really replace the experience of going out with your family to a real cinema? Can family members share a room? Such questions have the potential to reduce build size, time, and costs which ultimately translates to less waste.
As responsible architects our mission is not only to reduce waste but to actually enhance living, and the aforementioned questions also have the potential to do this. Less cars would encourage us to walk, cycle or use public transport which can all be considered healthier for both ourselves and the environment. Having just one living space with only one TV encourages us to share and compromise.
At Wolf Architects we see a future where sharing spaces both reduces waste and encourages better connectivity with one another. We now live in an environment where we can all be in the same space yet be completely disconnected through our phones. There is no need to further disconnect us by living in separate rooms. For each family member to have a bedroom, walk in robe and ensuite leads to a house where half the space is dedicated to being unconscious. This begs the question of why can’t a family of 3 or more all share one larger bedroom with perhaps one generous bathroom? Living together as successfully seen in military barracks or boarding houses is possible and in fact practised in many cultures and societies from a lack of alternative. A good architect should be able to design such an environment not to feel like sardines in a can and still have privacy.
The phone booth was killed by the mobile phone and you just need to study modern day train commuters to see how many people can share the same space and yet be miles apart in mental space. Technology in the future will significantly influence how our buildings are shaped. We might one day order a TV according to the size of our wall and it will be installed like wallpaper. Every surface in our buildings including the floors and ceilings will be a screen. This will not only revolutionise how we communicate but how we design our living spaces. Architectural thinking will need to adjust as you won’t need a window if the whole wall is an LCD that can provide any view you want. Headphones today not only enhance sound but have the ability to also cancel sound.
In regards to physical privacy this can again be overcome with alternative living and good design. Instead of a guest bedroom that is rarely used we could have a privacy room for personal activities such as wrapping a surprise present, or being intimate with one another. This again begs the question of how often do we do those activities to warrant such exclusivity? In our fast-paced society, we mostly go to our beds at the end of the day exhausted and ready to sleep. It shouldn’t matter how many other people are in the room provided we don’t get disturbed.
While there will always be mega mansions for those who seemingly need more, the majority of the world’s population will need to adjust their thinking towards living together in ways that are more sustainable. This thinking should start immediately, and WOLF Architects are questioning clients regularly for new opportunities to reduce waste and improve living.