Home Automation

Future-like Trends for your new home

What are trends for the future pointing for for new homes?

Throw in a high-tech remote sensing computerised system and it is easy to think you have a home for the 21st Century home, but how modern is that?

Apart from all the whizz-bang technology not much has changed from a home since time began.

Houses still provide warmth, shelter, entertainment, comfort, elements, light and protection. The cavemen had it and so do we, the only difference being that ours comes in cute packaging with a remote control.

Of course that is true at a most fundamental level, but even with a closer look at the home in its entirety, it still hasn’t changed much in hundreds of years.

Our homes may be bigger, but they are not as big as a 16th century country estate; our homes may have indoor plumbing, but so did the homes of the Bronze Age Indus Valley settlement dating back to 3300 BC, our homes may have better building methods available and yet some structures are still standing after 5000 years old like the Megalithic Temples of Malta.

In fact, houses have been built to relatively the same expectations for 600 years – and yet our lives have changed exponentially. Isn’t it time that our homes changed with them?

What space is what?

A standard house design included a designated room for a designated activity. A dining room for eating, a ballroom for dancing and a conservatory for the murdering Colonel Mustard. It was only in the homes of the poor that rooms became multi-functional for living, work and even livestock.

The problem with one room – one job concept is that a house is often left with unwanted and unused space much of the time while restricting total available space all of the time.

We are now living in the 21st century and we have changed our expectations of home. We live and breathe technology, our work spaces have blended with our domestic spaces, we love to entertain but we also live separately and we love to stay in the family home even when the family isn’t around anymore.

To cope with all these changes we need to grow and respond and our houses need to change with them. In the 21st century that means being flexible, embracing technology and living more sustainably.

Flexibility

The secret to adapting to smaller living spaces and changing family structures is to build a home that adapts to changing circumstances.

According to architects Paula and Phil Robinson in the book, The Room Planner,  houses can be completely flexible once the external walls have been established.

A flexible house makes you think, why not? Why can’t your house completely open up for the party of the century and then close down again the next morning for a private business call?

It makes you think, why not? Why do the kid’s rooms have to stay the same size now that they have grown from dependent child to grown adult, but have remained in the family home?

It makes you think, why not? Why do I have to sleep my parents in the open plan lounge room when they come to visit, why can’t I give them a temporary and private space?

Changing technology has given us walls that can move, adapt and flex to adapt to changing circumstances. These technological walls can appear as permanent or temporary as you like, and they are a whole lot easier to move than the old bookshelf in the lounge room trick. Different options that have appeared in recent years include blinds that roll down from the ceiling, solid walls that roll back into outer wall cavities, moveable glass walls that can turn opaque and fabric walls that change colour to suit.

The secret ingredient to such radical room changes is to create a seamless house that flows between rooms linking flooring, colours, textures and style. A hard floor that flows through all the opening rooms will not only add aesthetics but will not show traces of the previous room’s functions. A simple repeated colour scheme with accented highlights in pictures and rugs will allow a harmonious open and closed space combining function with style.

The shrinking debate

According to many ecological experts, the homes of the future will be smaller allowing people a simpler lifestyle with a higher connection to nature as they have dispensed with the need for a large mortgage and the constant demand of status enriching spending sprees.

While all of these sites are linked to a green agenda where less is more, the answer will probably be closer to less is affordable. With growing populations and cities, constant diminution of available land space and reduced access to resources, there will be a point where the ‘less is more’ debate will become the ‘small or smaller’ option.

While houses may end up becoming smaller out of necessity, there will be no doubt that the average landowner will prefer ‘bigger is better’ if given a full range of options.  

On The Conversation, noted that Australian houses are now the largest in the world, ahead of the USA and Canada and are 250% the size of what people were prepared to reside in 65 years ago.

Sustainable

While homes are becoming smarter they also need to become more intelligent.

Intelligent, or efficient homes, create new ways of doing the same work in a more sustainable environment. Homes will combine natural energy fuels from available sources such as the sun, wind, geothermal outlets or water to create enough energy to power their homes and their cars. Homes will not be reliant on fossil-based fuel but will use the properties of the surrounding environment to meet the needs of the 21st century and beyond while recognising the limitations of the current system.

Knowing the limitations of the earth to keep supplying us with new resources, homes of the future will need incorporate intelligent adaptations to make them more sustainable. Here is a list of the some of the more surprising trends of the future.

Water might be the surprising high-tech ingredient in the home of the future. Water is an adaptable agent for cooling and heating while also offering a sense of peaceful tranquillity.

The Room Planner reports a new system that allows visible underfloor heating with water flowing through a transparent surface which can be vamped up with lights and digital effects or subdued to an opaque surface with no discernible sound, while still doing the job of transferring a set temperature throughout the house. (Ed – read up on our review of the underfloor heating system called WarmTech.  Nothing as fancy as what is mentioned here though!)

Architect extraordinaire, Kevin McLeod is a keen advocate for sustainable living and recommends many innovations to improve the building process. One of the many changes he recommends is incorporating the ubiquitous and ever-adaptable hemp products into concrete. Called Hempcrete, the combination of hemp aggregate, water and lime-based binder provides a sound alternative to concrete and is available in Australia.

While McLeod is in tune with the organic, James Cook University has made concrete reinforcements out of recycled plastic, instead of resource-rich steel. The amazing adaptation will keep more bottles out of  our oceans and put them in a new sort of landfill, only this time a more welcome and environmental alternative to traditional landfill.

Techno wizardry

Smart homes create a technologically connected house that take away all the difficult everyday tasks – like turning on a light – and putting them into a programmed suite of possibilities that are linked to your phone. Many new homes are already equipped with the existing smart technologically, yet what is about to bust onto the scenes will rip the jacket off any sci-fi novel.

Smart technology will be dialled up to overdrive according to Future Technology 500 . A computer will check what’s in the fridge and send an order to the supermarket, make sure the iron is turned off or run facial recognition security at the front door.

Robots are still hot on the menu – cooking it that is.  Japanese researchers have taken enormous strides in making the imaginable tangible, through the use of voice recognition technology that has transformed the robot industry.

Jobs for the future robot will include feeding the cat, washing the clothes, putting the food in the oven and cleaning.

So what do you do once all the dreary jobs have dropped off the to-do list? With a vision of Wall-E in mind, entertainment, virtual reality and home theatre systems will continue to grow in realism and size. If you have ever imagined life with the dinosaurs, you will soon have the chance to live the dream with the constant innovations in home entertainment systems.




There are no comments

Add yours