“No one realises how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” - Lin Yutang
Home(s) of my parents
When my parents tell me about their lives and homes, they make it sound so nostalgic and warm. Both my mother and father were born in 2 separate and comparable villages in the middle of Turkey, in Anatolia. They wereboth one of many children in their household. In those days and that region, families would all live together. Many generations, grandparents, parents, children, grandchildren, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons… Everyone would live together, help each other out, eating together, playing together, and also sleeping together. The beds would be folded out on the floor in the evening and folded back up in the morning. The rooms would be multifunctional, the living room, would also function as a dining room and sleeping room. Talk about smart living ;)
“There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.” - Jane Austin
When my parents moved to the Netherlands, they would still live with a couple of families in the same building to save money. And when they started their own family, they moved out to live in a house of their own. I remember growing up visiting family and neighbours all the time. It felt very warm and welcoming. The older I got, the less we would visit each other. And the more I got used to the way of living in this time and region, which is more individualistic. When I moved to Japan and was living in Tokyo about a year, I recognised both the family oriented and individualistic way of living from the Turkish and Dutch cultures. I also recognised the multifunctional and compact way of living. Comparing the different cultures, cities, villages, rural areas, throughout time, I definitely see differences. The scenario’s have their own advantages and disadvantages.
“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” - Maya Angelou
Homes all over the world
Looking at the way I, my friends, family, and people around me living, I see the following. In Amsterdam and big cities in the Netherlands, rest of Europe, Turkey, and around the world, there is a general trend. From large families living together and supporting each other, people have been living more alone and separate. Many people live by themselves all alone in a house. Or share an apartment with their partner or friends. This individualistic lifestyle has the advantage to live freely the way you want. No parents or social control from families and culture restricting you. And at the same time, there is not the warm feeling of belonging to a greater whole. That you can spontaneously come back home and there are people there. And the food is cooking in the kitchen, to be eaten together with others. Where you don’t have to schedule appointments for your life after work.
“A house is made of bricks & beams. A home is made of hopes & dreams.” -
Basically, having the freedom to live your life the way you want. To have choices all the time and everywhere. And also having the option to “fall back” when you have not organised and planned any appointments for your social life. How does this look like? Well, physically it means that homes are multifunctional and adaptable. That a home is not only an apartment on its own, but part of a bigger picture. The connection the home has with other homes and facilities around. That a home can be shared in its entirety or only the kitchen area for example. Homes can be housed by singles, couples, families, students, professionals, nomads, visitors, refugees… Building homes that are agile and to be used for specific people in a specific location in specific times. Agile by design as one of the basic principles.
“The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.” - Confucius
Next to designing and building homes which are agile, it is also important that they are sustainable. The materials which are used for example. I remember my parents telling me that the material of their houses in the village was such that they kept their home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. By using smart materials in a smart way, we can save so much more energy. One of my inspirations is the Venus project, where the 100 year old Nobel Prize winner Jacque Fresco shows examples of Sustainability by design. Building bathrooms in such a way, where the water from the shower is used to flush the toilet. By designing in a smart way, it will prevent us having to make modifications to smarten up “stupid” homes. And of course using renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, hydro, tidal, geothermal, and then some…
“There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent.” - Gandhi
Mindset of homes
This has a major impact on the current way homes are designed and build. There are many different stakeholders in this “game”. The government and business have different roles at different times. The methodology used now takes a long time and is organised in a serial manner. Going through requirements determination, analysis, design, and building the homes, years have gone by. The requirements have already changed and the homes are not meeting the current requirements. What we need is a more agile way of working, where all the different stakeholders are engaged at the same time. This means also the end users, who are and will be living in these homes. This is a completely different way of organising and facilitating this process. In turn, this requires a major cultural change and transformation, which is needed desperately.
“There’s no place like home.” - Dorothy
And how can we use technology for these smart homes? You probably already have heard and read about Smart Lighting and Smart Energy? Well, technology can be implemented in the whole environment of the home. Where you can “sense” anything you want. Sensors used in the walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, rooms, objects, etc. These sensors can be passive and measure all kinds of data. For example, the air, the temperature, the oxygen levels, the pollution, the sound levels, the presence of living beings like humans and animals, and then some. The actuators can be active and “do something”. For example changing the temperature to make it more pleasant for the people in the area. Or changing the music for a more calm atmosphere. The home can be considered as an “organism”, an extension of the people living there. This organism can interact with the people and objects inside. And it also has the ability to interact with the people and objects outside, and even with other homes. Our relationship with our home has just started… Hello World! Welcome Home :)
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