One of our oldest human institutions is the home. For as long as our species has existed, we’ve occupied spaces and made them our own. As we’ve evolved, so have the form and concept of “home,” giving rise to the detached, single-family dwelling that eventually became normative for many people.
The late-20th century witnessed a novel trend: as families became smaller, the average home actually grew in size. By the 2000s, people occupied three times the space, per person, that they did in the 1950s.
Now, the 21st century has brought new challenges. Non-renewable fuels are scarcer than ever, and energy is more costly. Extreme weather events occur with alarming frequency, thus fulfilling the predictions of climatologists as far back as the 1940s. Global populations are straining dwindling resources. Now, more than ever, how we live and build matters as we confront an uncertain future.
Do the homes that we build today even meet our current needs? Do we really need all that energy-gobbling square footage? Does it matter that our tile comes from China and our moldings from Chile? What will happen when energy prices rise?
Recently, I watched a documentary in which new conventionally built homes were referred to as “dinosaur houses” – in other words, the way they’re built has rendered them already obsolete. Fortunately, there’s good news. We’re seeing a growing movement toward a new philosophy of sustainable living, and toward design solutions that offer both comfort and efficiency. There’s a trend toward smaller, future-friendly homes in which abundant living is possible. These homes also use higher quality materials and construction practices.
In future posts, I’ll talk about ways to make thoughtful design choices that will allow your home to endure and evolve instead of becoming obsolete. Stay tuned!