In the history of humanity, not so long ago, people still gathered in a cave for protection. They called it home and decorated it with the paintings of their hunting adventures. Skip a little forward, and the first mud and wooden huts were born. Give it another few centuries and humanity has finally managed the art of making tight and sturdy bricks out of the materials that are readily available in nature. It’s difficult to know what the first men and women imagined the home of the future would look like. However, we can find out what our more recent ancestors hope the home of the future would be. In fact, from the moment the Industrial Revolution kicked in, the future began to look incredibly futuristic. Flying cars, robots that do all the chores and people getting all their vitamins from one single pill. That’s pretty much what the world expected the future of humanity to be. However, until the 1960s, it’s fair to say that nobody expected houses actually to evolve and transform into something different. The idea of a wall of brick with a wooden door at the entrance was a staple representation of what houses should look like because that’s ultimately is what they looked like for centuries. But, it’s now the 21st century and things are going to change for homeowners, even in the simplest design, residential yard work project, or curb appeal and concrete sealing task. Modern technology has finally reached that point in time where it meets the expectations of our ancestors. The homes of today are exhibiting some of the characteristics of the Jetsons’ house, and while we don’t live in space yet, we’ve been strongly inspired by our favorite space colonizers.
What people thought today’s homes would be
In the Victorian 19th century, people came to dream of a house that could travel. They imagined that the future would bring moving homes, that you can drive where you want to live. Ultimately, while modern homes tend to stick to their postal address, it’s fair to say that the Victorian investors were not entirely wrong. Camping vans, caravans and mobile homes are proof that you can live in a home that travels. However, these moving homes are only temporary as they are primarily used for the duration of your holiday. The increase of traffic on the road has probably made it impractical for inventors to build a real size home that you could take on a ride whenever you need to go. Nevertheless, the Victorian dream of homes with additional mobility functions is a reality. When you considering the futuristic visions from the 1960s about the homes of the 21st century, the first thing, you’ll notice is that the vision has dramatically and significantly changed. The urban landscape depicts cellular shapes as bubbles of accommodations, which are seemingly planted on top of thin and high towers. In the Jetsons, for instance, one can’t help but wonder how such homes can safely stand upright. Nevertheless, this era delivers a message of hope that seems to go even beyond the most basic requirements of physics and gravitational force. The reason why illustrators of the time imagined an aerial future is because there’s a sense of lightness and modular elegance that is taking over the world. One look at the pop and vibrant furniture of the era is enough to convince you that the 1960s were in to transform the way people see the world. It’s fair to say that without their enthusiasm to break away from the traditional shapes of the interior decor, nobody would have even thought that modern homes could look any different.
We’re better at understanding the elements
Unfortunately, the laws of physics haven’t disappeared since the 1960s. The floating homes that can safely stand on a tiny stick are not part of the urban landscape yet. However, if the laws of physics have not been removed, they certainly have been studied with close attention to details. So much attention, in fact, that homeowners are starting to make their homes work within the constraints of their environment. At the core of this approach, you need of course to start your building project with expert civil, structural and geotechnical knowledge – such as from this group of professional companies https://www.eastcoast-geotech.com.au/ – to gain an in-depth understanding of the characteristics of the soil of your building site, as well as a technical approach to adapt your home to the findings. It’s precisely what a family in the UK has made by creating the first amphibious house alongside the River Thames. Set on dock-like foundations, the house rises with the level of the water, avoiding any flooding issues – which would otherwise be a major problem in this region. Completed less than 4 years ago, the house has already passed its first flood test successfully with its ability to rise safely up to 2.5 meters above the ground. Ultimately, there’s something deeply endearing in the knowledge that modern homes, maybe, are not made to fight the elements but to work with them.
Using natural elements to our benefits
Natural elements, however, don’t always represent a potential danger for the accommodation. Working with these elements can also be part of a cost-saving strategy to ensure that the house can pay for its own maintenance. With the cost of material and energy constantly increasing, it has become essential to find a cost-effective solution that can maintain your current lifestyle without breaking the bank. That’s precisely what the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities decided to do when they took a pre-1940s house in Massachusetts to develop an environmentally-friendly and ultra-efficient space. The result is a house that produces more energy than it consumes. With this exercise, the Harvard Center demonstrates that even old buildings, which are renowned for being energy-hungry, can be retrofitted with efficient structures. The HouseZero achieves high-performance scores with zero carbon emissions, 100% natural ventilation and daylight autonomy and near zero energy for heating and cooling. Is this the model for future homes? It’s fair to say that building regulations have inspired the HouseZero concept, as residential and commercial buildings need now to meet efficiency standard requirements. We can only hope that in future, the HouseZero models will be made available and affordable to all homeowners.
A house that thinks for itself
There is only a short mental stroll from the house that can manage its own energy production and consumption to the house that can manage itself. That’s precisely what the Weissenhof estate, overlooking Stuttgart in Germany, had set up to create with its concrete cubic houses and functional exteriors. Opened in 1927, these pioneering prefabricated buildings were designed with steel skeleton frames to reduce costs and create better living conditions for the poor population. Almost 90 years later, the estate attracts the attention of realtors with a new prefabricated home again. The house is a small glass box covered in fiberglass fabric with windows that stretch the length of one side. Designed to keep cold and heat at bay, the box house is environmentally sound, uses zero energy and is not fuelled by any fossil fuel or nuclear power. It has zero emission and can be fully recycled. It also thinks for itself and actively adjusts thanks to a self-learning building control system. If snow is coming, the box will turn the heating up. It registers how long a room needs to cool down at night and whether trees are blocking the sunlight. Everything can be controlled through a smartphone, but ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you don’t control the lighting or the temperature. The room can manage itself perfectly and hyper-efficiently.
The house that knows the trends
The next big thing, obviously, is not a house that manages itself, but a house that can decorate itself. A smart home, for instance, could connect to your interior preferences and order the best seasonal trends to give your living room a new style. From animal prints to vintage granny flowers, a house that knows you could, eventually, set up its own interior style to best match your personality and requirements. The introduction of smart-learning AI such as Amazon Echo is paving the way to individualized and tailor-made homes. But if you don’t want to renew your decor with every new trend, you can already embrace modern painting technology the next time you plan to have an interior or exterior painting project. With today’s technology stripping paint of the wall with sandblasting is quite quick and simple, leaving it ready to be freshly painted with a new style. As for the future, scientists are developing a chameleon paint that changes colors at the touch of a button. Filled with nanotechnology, the controllable cells in the paint can respond to your command, as well as to weather changes.
The house with soft, cellular contours
Are modern homes doomed to remain square and blocky? The answer is no, as demonstrated by the biomorphic homes that have first been introduced in the late 1960s. Inspired by cellular architecture, the biomorphic structure offers a convenient accommodation for a family. While it’s fair to say that the trend didn’t take off at the time, more and more modern, environmentally-friendly buildings are looking into the advantages of soft and round contours. It’s simple, but at the same time it’s charismatic, elegant and fits perfectly in the landscape.
We may not be ready to embrace the Jetsons’ lifestyle, but there’s no denying that the homes of the future are around today and they are here to stay.