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DRONES, DRIVERLESS CARS & ROBOTS…BUT ARE OUR HOMES READY?

As the season of design fairs continues, we made a pit stop at VISION 17: “The future of the built environment”. Surprisingly not much to see other than 3D printing machines and triple glazed windows… BUT there were some interesting seminars!

James Fenner from property marketing firm Silk Road spoke about future proofing apartment designs to better suit our way of living. He made some interesting points and portrayed a critical analysis of the shift in our society, that is impacting the way we live and use the latest innovative technologies that have entered our homes.

Improvements in public health, nutrition and medicine have led to an increase in life expectancy. As a result, it is now easier to monitor our heatlth from the comfort of our homes. Digital doctor consultations and in-house DNA machines will soon become the norm and we will be able to test our DNA from home. Selfridges has already started selling DNA personalised skincare (Geneu).

The John Lewis Smart Home product range is bringing a series of connected technologies to simplify our life and create a more flexible and efficient home. From climate control to home monitoring and smart appliances, our homes are transforming rapidly. Knocki turns every surface of your home into a remote control for your favourite devices and Amazon Echo connects you to the voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant service Alexa. Apple has also announced HomePod, its new wireless speaker and home assistant product which aims to rival Google Home and Amazon’s Echo device.

As we grow older, technology will become more crucial for assisting the more vulnerable and isolated. The Aura Powered Suit designed by Fuse Projects is an innovative technology that reacts to our body’s natural movement, adding muscle power to naturally complement the user’s strength in getting up, sitting down and stay standing. Home robots are becoming more and more advanced and will soon be able to keep us entertained and assist people around the house.

On the contrary with all the technology stimulations, we are now looking to re-wild. The luxury travel sector is already embracing the shift, we can be dropped in the middle of nowhere to reconnect with nature. Our homes are saturated with technology and lights, from computers to phones and electronic displays making us visually over stimulated. This has resulted in the need for quieter spaces, and darker spaces making spas and relaxation rooms even more popular.

In todays stressful time, well-being of the mind, body and soul is essential. Nature is seen taking more and more space in homes through several new space saving indoor green solutions. Ikea recently launched a DIY flat-pack garden, the Growroom Project. Property developers are also increasingly building vertical forests and green roofs.

The property sector is moving towards living solutions that are better for the environment and are more energy efficient. The traditional Victorian terrace home is seeing big changes. Smaller plot sizes and buyers who have elder family staying with them have started to redefine the family home. Developer Mirvac is building 240 multi-generational terrace-style homes at its Tullamore masterplanned community in Melbourne’s Doncaster.

Another interesting thought from Fenner where he suggested that people could potentially buy surface area rather than a dedicated flat. This flexible model would allow homes to adapt to the ever-changing lifestyle from single to family life and accommodate multi-generational households. Modular spaces could allow you to add, remove and reposition partitions and switch from the top-floor to the ground floor within the same residential complex creating a new form of Community living.

Co-living spaces will be redefined to share rather than be individually owned. The Cooperative Kalkbreite co-op from Switzerland is inventing new ways of living in the city which are more ecological and culturally diverse. They offer a wide range of homes that include conventional apartments for nuclear families, up to 17 bedroom flats for extended households and mini apartments with communal spaces including shared laundry, library, canteen, roof garden and terraces.

MINI Vision Next 100 is proposing a similar future for the automotive industry where you get picked-up by a car offering autonomous driving and pre-programmed personalised settings before you start your journey.

Personalisation is key for Architect Carlo Ratti who developed a heating system with MIT that uses motion sensors to focus beams of infrared radiation on people as they move through a building. The fluctuation of occupancy throughout the day and personalised heating in office spaces could help save tremendous amounts of energy.

As technologies continue to progress, we observe that our living spaces have remarkably not changed at the same pace over the years. Buildings should be designed around us and change with us, to suit our new aspirations and need to be more sustainable.

And finally, if you are planning your house make sure you have accommodated for a drone port for deliveries!

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