Last time I talked about the loathsome return of the McMansion and how a new generation of homeowners and home buyers are moving away from the “traditional home” to something that is more sustainable, has a distinct modern architectural style and is suited to a different style of life than our parents and grandparents were used to. But what does that look like? As I’ve talked about before, if the “traditional home” is no more, what replaces it? In order to answer that, first we have to look at what the traditional home is, break it down into its component parts and identify how our modern ideal has changed.
Above is your typical home plan that you can find in any suburban neighborhood in America. Already you can see that the layout is very segregated and compartmentalized. Immediately entering the home you’ve got a traditional foyer and a formal dining room. The “great room”, otherwise known as a living room or family room, all of which are completely cut off and separate from the kitchen and breakfast area. To the left, the bedrooms, including master, are reached via a small opening and hallway (not unlike a cave entrance). You could almost draw lines and color code the disparate functions of the home without any colors bleeding together. I don’t know about you, but this is NOT how I want to live in my largest investment – my home.
So what is the alternative? What do we offer the next generation of homeowners that addresses this new lifestyle of efficiency, sustainability and open interaction? First how about just tearing down a few walls? I know what you’re thinking – I’m a GENIUS!
So we tear down some walls, we blur the barriers between disparate functional spaces and suddenly, with just a little imagination and a lot of architectural education (i.e. numerous sleepless nights, countless gallons of dark roast coffee, more than a few packages of caffeine pills and a propensity for wearing black) we start to think about the “traditional home” as something other than the “traditional home”.
The two above floor plans were created by thinking about how people use a home. And I mean really use a home not what people tell you in those horrific focus group meetings that developers use to generate ideas for floor plans and elevation layouts. I’m speaking from dark and terrifying experience here. Conducting one of those meetings is tantamount to asking a cat how to better design a carrying cage to be more comfortable….it’s still a cage for carrying animals – nothing special and certainly not enjoyable for the cat.
Returning to the topic at hand – if the traditional home is no more than what replaces it is a generation of designers and architects that design for the client – not a sudo-cleint, but a real flesh and blood person/end user – and the way that client lives. In doing so we first have the opportunity to create something that will have a lasting impact on the lives of an entire family and secondly we will actually be providing the service for which we were made – creating good architecture. Because at the end of the day, creating efficient, sustainable homes is at the core of good architecture. Architecture has always been meant to have as little impact on it’s surroundings as possible, to be a part of it’s landscape rather than intrude upon it. Returning to the basic tenants of architecture and architectural design is the future of not just the home, but the future of the profession itself.