Daily Archives: February 17, 2010

The house of the future (as predicted in 2010)

It’s 2010, and according to the movie 2010 we should be sending people to Mars and living in colonies on the moon. Of course, we’re not. And we’re not flying around in cars from The Jetsons (which I’m assuming will happen once people master driving in two dimensions first), our major cities haven’t been turned into maximum security prisons like Escape from New York (which the movie was set in 1997), and we’re not all wearing shiny monochromatic body suits (there’s probably only a thousand movies that depict a future where every single person shops exclusively at The Gap). Predicting the future gives a person the opportunity to broaden people’s horizons and spark imaginations. It also allows a person to look incredibly foolish (I’m looking right at you person who wrote Time Cop).

Predicting what our homes will look like in the future is as absurd as making a movie about the future. Of course there is the dilemma that homes in the future will need to respond to problems that won’t exist for another few decades, so how could we possibly know what they should look like and how they should be lived in? Who in 1960 would’ve guessed that the neighborhoods of the early 21st century would look like the same neighborhood where the Cleavers resided? So here is my educated guess on the future of homes for the year 2025…

– Houses will have a much smaller footprint. I’m not saying that homes will necessarily be smaller than they are today (my money says they will be though), but the amount of land occupied by a single home will be much smaller than today’s homes. If a home is to be large, then it will be large vertically and not horizontally. This will lead to a more dense urban environment and minimal yards. Visitors to the Smithsonian will be able to see recent relics like the lawnmower and the stair master.

– Houses will have a more direct connection to the outside. With smaller homes it will be important to implement design strategies that make the interior spaces feel much larger than they actually are. Windows provide a visual connection to the exterior, but that connection is typically an illusion since people are not apt to climb out the window to be outside. I’m imagining something like a Nana wall system (like this one) where the exterior walls can be moved entirely. The lack of a yard should diminish the possibility of a raccoon walking through the large opening and visiting your kitchen.

– Houses will be sustainable, but not because people feel obligated to protect the environment. They will be sustainable for the same reason we do most things we do – because it’s required by law. California will soon be implementing CalGreen, a provision to the California Building Code requiring buildings to have a certain level of sustainable features. As California goes so does the rest of the nation. In the future there will be nothing special about LEED buildings because the building code will require buildings to meet or exceed LEED standards. Houses will be designed and built to respond to a specific site in order to make use of its natural surroundings, so it will actually be more expensive to plop a standard developer-driven designed home onto a site and to integrate sustainable features into that house.

– Houses will have fully integrated electronics. Everything you plug into the wall (which may not exist in 2025 since all electronics will be powered by wireless systems) will essentially talk to each other. Your home will become a machine for living in (something Le Corbusier preached) in that the home’s energy performance can be measured and understood by the inhabitant. You will receive text messages from your refrigerator when the milk is about to go bad, and your electric car will post something on your Facebook page about how the tires need to be rotated.

– And my final prediction (at least for now) about the house of 2025, one word – slides! Why walk down stairs when you can let gravity do all of the work? Wake up, get ready for work, slide down to the kitchen – WHEEEEE! Eat breakfast, say goodbye to the kids, slide down to the garage – WHEEEEE!

No one knows what the future holds for us, let alone how we’re going to live and what type of architecture we are going to inhabit. The future can be as imaginative as a sci-fi movie, but will probably look more like a sitcom from the 1950s.