Vision of the Future for Housing
What better platform to explore what housing will look like by 2015 and beyond than the Architectural Digest show which took place in New York just over a week ago?
Such visions were presented by IFDA, the International Furnishings & Design Association in a seminar based on a national survey the organization conducted that investigated what changes may have already occurred in housing or will shortly be upon us.
The square footage for of the average home across the country has shrunk from 2,438 sq.ft. in 2007 to a projected 2,152 sq. ft. by 2015. The taste for MegaMansions, it seems, has cooled off. However, this is not the only change we have to look forward to.
An expert panel shared their observations and prognostications. They included: Al Giaquinto, a certified Green Master Builder; Paul Masi, architect-partner of the firm Bates-Masi, and Mary Jo Peterson, a certified "Aging In Place" practicioner and interior designer specializing in kitchens and baths.
Giaqinto talked at length and in detail about the increased use of technology in new houses:
- Temperature and light sensitive devices that automatically keep houses at a pre-determined comfort and light level or alert absentee owners to unexpected problems;
- Automatic door openers that are more and more requested and needed to move ever expanding glass walls;
- The continued blending of interior spaces into one large room, typically combining living and dining or living and entertaining for social sharing within one large room;
- Conversely, private pursuits, such as study, reading, home office or special interests, such as photography, gardening or craft activities, tend to be separated and hidden from view.
- In the extreme, some of his clients have requested a space for "messy" kitchen activities separated from eating and entertaining in one's kitchen. The separation is creating smaller, not larger kitchens but augmented with casual seating areas nearby in lieu of in -kitchen dining.
- Other new requests: Master Suites on the ground floor or an elevator for those upstairs.
Peterson talked about the many more appliances we now build into our kitchens and that many now perform multi functions, such as Miele's steam oven, for instance, on view at the show. Using the power of water, an entire meal from appetizer to dessert can be prepared in this one appliance.
- New developments in the works: a dishwasher for the outdoors and oven burners which can be adjusted to the size and shape of a cooking vessel, i.e. to accommodate a fish poacher or an oval casserole more energy efficiently.
- Bathrooms are growing smaller but not necessarily less luxurious - in fact many of the newest luxury features are focused on the shower with body jets joining large shower heads.
- This comes at the expense of tubs, which now are more often than not reduced to soaking tubs and may eventually head into extinction. Tubs are being installed outdoors as part of the whole movement of increasing the percentage of outdoor living and the increasing use of appliances and luxuries we used to associate only with the indoors. Part of this trend is the growing popularity of outdoor showers as those ever expanding glass panels installed in today's houses contribute to making the separation between indoors and outdoors all but invisible.
Paul Masi echoed many of the findings by his fellow panelists but added that recent demands by his company's clients often means planning and building more compact houses but expanding on the outdoors.
- Bigger swimming pools are equipped with light, sound and often combined with waterfalls.
- Chlorine is banned as a cleaning agent in favor of natural water filters."A lot of these trends are like theater," Paul told his audience - influenced by luxury travel where consumers have experienced outdoor fireplaces and furniture, even beds. His clients want to see luxuries imported into the family experience.
- Soon to come: outdoor TVs.
- This makes maintenance free materials and furnishings for the outdoors as necessary as the imagination it takes to create these new outdoor worlds.