Writers, designers and inventors have always been looking to the future, imagining what it would be like. Some, like H.G.Wells predicted inventions to come like submarines, rockets and helicopters, or perhaps they even inspired them, while the communicator device in Star Trek is said to have inspired Martin Cooper at Motorola with the development of the mobile phone in the early 1970′s. As H.G.Wells said, “Anything that one man can imagine, another man can make real”, though we have yet to experience time travel.
The future of the home has also been a source of ideas, some also linked to space travel and what a human settlement on another planet would look like with all its new technology, some linked to 20th and 21st century homes, reflecting new technologies, new inequalities of housing, the problem of not enough housing and limited land, and ecological issues.
New York-based architects SO-IL have brought together many of these visions of the future in a series of interconnected rooms in the Design Museum’s exhibition ‘Home Future’ where visitors are invited to sit and enjoy some of the new environments. As houses become smaller while remaining expensive, environmentally sustainable and increasingly technologically rich, will they follow the precedents of modern flexible workplaces as young people focus more on technology than on clutter; perhaps following the lead of some of the new hotels like Citizen M? Will we see a new form of ‘hippy’ commune appear for the future generations?
Google, of course, is here. You know that technology is getting out of hand when Alexa or Google, your home companions, start talking to each other. Now, you are really in trouble! You are also in trouble, if, as recently happened to me, your wifi goes down. Alexa can’t do anything: no lights will come on, no heating, no music! And what was the cause of my wifi failure? Mother nature in the form of a mouse which had nibbled through the internet cable from the street.
A fascinating exhibition, which links with ’100 Mile City and Other Stories’, running round the balcony, where architect and urbanist Peter Barber explores the issues and opportunities arising from London’s current housing crisis, and the importance of architecture in creating sustainable homes and places to live in the future. At a time, when, according to reports, inadequate numbers of houses are still being built in London, it is a timely exhibition and also reminds us that housing is not just about numbers, but about good quality design and the spaces between homes. Local authorities such as Westminster led the way in the 1960′s with high quality designs and good landscaping, often achieved through architectural competitions, before it all went wrong in subsequent decades. We need developers and architects to achieve high quality design again.