Here at “Corten Central”, we’re pretty concerned with the direction of family housing. It’s vital that ALL families have homes and that those homes work with them and not against them, especially in troubled times.
We teach families globally to create symbiotic housing environments that provide a nurturing of family life and not a seemingly endless maintenance cycle that requires infusion of resources to keep going forward. This applies to all kinds of housing, not just shipping container homes.
As housing evolves, we find ourselves more and more dependent on systems and gadgets that seemingly make life worth living. But do they really?
Yoda said; “Live in harmony, you must.”
Yoda was exactly right. Sure, he was 800 years old. Sure he was a bit cranky. But he knew that to live a good life, you have to eliminate the stress and chaos.
(Okay, you can begin this process by NOT telling your relatives where you are moving… but at some point you have to think about the home you’re living in.) LOL!
In a perfect world, your home and lifestyle merge to create a sustainable path that makes the burdens of home ownership easier. In some cases with good design and the right elements, it makes home ownership downright seamless.
Are you paying attention to the AIA’s (American Institute of Architects) recently announced “future housing trends” for 2016 and beyond?
At first glance, these “future trends” look suspiciously like a return to the past, at least through our eyes.
For example, we’ve always been proponents of using natural materials that lack synthetic or chemical components that can prove harmful to family members or pets.
We’ve always urged families to build redundant power and water systems that will insure family safety, seamlessly, whenever possible. It’s about being self-reliant and self-aware. It’s about taking control of your life. It’s about being responsible for your family.
We’ve always urged families to use “environmentally responsible materials” whenever possible to insure family health and well-being.
We’ve preached recycling, repurposing and reusing. It just makes good sense and done correctly it can produce amazing results. We love reclaiming materials and turning them into magic.
We know exactly what we are talking about. We have a lot of practice and field work behind us. We’ve earned our scars the old fashioned way, one project at a time… for decades.
We don’t just “build stuff”. Many of you know that on the philanthropic side, CHC and RR are heavily involved in “first responder” humanitarian aid. Our non-profit foundation is internationally known for being there first and doing the job required no matter what chaos exists. We understand “disasters”, both natural and manmade, at a level that few others can even have nightmares about.
(Ask us about Haiti, the Philippines or Nepal sometime…)
Let’s look at the “trends” that the AIA just announced as “pivotal”;
1. Disaster-resistant designs
This means designing and building “environmentally responsible structures”. With more extreme weather brought on by climate change, architects and builders are already seeing that design features meant to insure the durability of homes in low-lying areas are being embraced nationally, regardless of GPS location. There is, indeed… a need.
This is the Philippines. We were there, helping heal a torn nation. We touched a lot of people in need. We were truly blessed.
Architectural Design firms are already incorporating protective features intended to safeguard homes from flooding, fires and wind damage in impact areas all across this planet. One day, this will become common even in non-coastal areas.
These protective measures can include something as simple as elevating a home several feet up in the air on pilings, building safe rooms in the home to protect the residents and installing water cisterns or providing back-up power generation.
2. Healthy building materials
Everyone is talking about this lately. We’ve all seen the “local farmers market movement”. We’re reminded that eating healthier leads to a better life and it improves the local economy at the same time. It’s win-win.
This “organic” movement is influencing building material selection as well. Home builders and their buyers have become more educated about building materials that don’t promote good health and clean living.
Think of all of the materials in your home that “linger on after the tradesmen, construction workers and installers have left the building”. Paints, flooring, adhesives, and even cabinet materials off-gas, giving off fumes that can make you and your loved ones sick. Remember also that those off-gassing materials are often installed low enough in your home to be harmful to your pets as well.
Look for caulking materials that are solvent free. Look for adhesives that are water based. Insulate with cellulose instead of fiberglass. Look for solid wood cabinets and fixtures instead of their laminated or particle board counterparts. Anything laminated or particle board based probably contains formaldehyde.
Did you know that although plywood is NOT a “healthy choice”, the exterior grades of plywood are actually preferable to their interior grade cousins? It’s because the phenol formaldehyde binders of exterior grade plywood are waterproof and more stable than the urea based formaldehyde binders used in the construction of interior grade plywood materials. And it should also be noted that the binders in interior grade plywoods are only water resistant, and not waterproof. It makes a big difference.
3. Smart-home automation
Architects anticipate that smart-home automation will continue to intrigue families as the features include more and more “relief of input” in areas like temperature control, elevated levels of security and more efficient lighting programmable from a laptop, tablet or even your cell phone. Costs for these products have dropped significantly. Smart Home Automation is no longer just “gadgets for the rich and famous”. With a little planning and foresight, these features are easily incorporated into your home.
Remember that the idea is to make the home work FOR YOU. If done properly, the home becomes a nurturing family member.
4. Designs catering to an aging population
We’ve known for a long time that good design means building responsible structures that look after the inhabitants as they grow older. Trend driven design fixes that will allow people to continue occupying their homes longer are likely to become more popular as the families age.
These features will include elements like wider hallways. Think about this for a minute.
In our view, hallways should NEVER be dark, narrow gauntlets crafted to be navigated with caution.
Hallways should embrace a family and add functionality and efficiency. Wider hallways provide the opportunity to utilize that space by allowing the creation of multipurpose areas, additional (and quite stylish) storage and even provide display locations for family heirlooms and galleries.
They become focal points instead of confining and herding you to other locations.
Great design contributes to your quality of life. Great design increases function, reduces costs associated with building and focuses on efficiency and reduction of maintenance.
Now add features like lowered windows and design that includes smaller footprint structures similar to that of cottages and bungalows to the mix and you have something timeless.
5. Energy-efficient design
We’ve always known that homes should work with you and not against you. We’ve always known that resources diminish over time. Looked at your power bill lately? Are you paying more? Has your water bill gone up?
Good design includes efficiency, especially in areas of water use and energy consumption. But you can pursue this too far. Take LEEDS for example. While it SOUNDS like a great idea, LEEDS adds significant costs to construction that few homeowners realize as a viable return. GOOD design will lend itself to not only efficiency and saving, but provide alternatives in times of hardship.
I”m not saying outright that LEEDS is a bad thing. But, it’s not the only road that families can take to build energy efficient, sustainable homes that are still affordable.
For example, photovoltaic panels (PV’s) sound expensive and complicated when first embraced. But boiled down, they’re simple, relatively easily understood systems that are easily monitored, insuring that your family has reliable power despite local conditions. Remember that when your neighborhood is suffering rolling brown-outs and your house is the only one on the street with power because you get it straight from the sun.
We’ve always thought “out of the box” despite teaching families to live within them. And as we grow older, wiser, more experienced… It’s good to see that we really weren’t the “crazy guys” our peers claimed we were, way back when.
It’s funny what a few decades does to prove theory (and dispel myth and urban legend) when properly applied.