The design of our homes is one area that many are guilty of neglecting; developers in particular. A home requires consideration of every aspect of our daily lives, from how we move around, the things that we use and how often we use them, storage, daylight, connection with the garden. However, many of the homes that actually get built do not address these basic considerations. Cost is the primary deciding factor – for example, doors and windows are kept small, and storage is kept to a minimum as it’s seen as wasted space that could be used in a bedroom.
As a result, most of our homes are poorly designed; many don’t have the space to put our hoover away, so it sits in the corner of the room and we trip over it most days. Or there is nowhere to dry our clothes so they sit on clothes horses in our living rooms.
Good design is key to the quality of life that every person should be receiving, and it is no great insight or inspiration – it is simply thinking through how we live, and designing accordingly. To achieve this, we have to involve the client – whether it’s a millionaire’s mansion or a social housing development, the residents should be included in the design and/or the construction of their new homes.
Alejandro Aravena, a Chilean architect, is well-known for achieving this. He has completed several social housing developments that are recognized for their social cohesion and the involvement of the local community. He has also mastered a balance between good design and cost by creating a ‘half-finished’ home – one that is complete but has the obvious potential for extension and further development by the new owners in the future, as and when funds allow.
I truly believe that this approach can be repeated in Ireland, to provide successful housing developments, that will not only help alleviate the crisis but provide spaces that are good enough to call home.
PHOTO CREDIT: Lisbon, Portugal.