When’s the last time you actually used your dining room for eating? Or entered a friend’s house through the front door? This article on re:form, entitled “Data-Driven Architecture”, tracks one family’s movements through their house during a typical week. The result: almost all the occupants’ time is spent in the kitchen and the family room. Over 60% of the first floor’s 1344 square feet are virtually unused.
By and large, housing developers – and owners with the luxury to self-design – base their layouts on social expectations, not real life. The result is wasted construction materials and high energy bills to maintain the unused space. Here in Vermont, Colin took a bold stroke and eliminated a formal dining room from the floor plan. His new dining area is an extension of the kitchen, reflecting how the family uses its current home. In a similar vein, Colin’s breezeway connects to the garage, mudroom, and central stairwell, making it a functional entry rather than an afterthought. The front door is purely for show; the wide, elevated porch redirects guests to the more comfortable breezeway. This house is designed to fit actual behavior patterns.
The re:form article contains a wealth of data demonstrating the benefits to individuals and societies if homes were built to better fit the occupants’ lifestyles. Author David Friedlander also maintains a wonderful blog, lifeedited, which I’ll spotlight in a future post.