Future depictions of our homes by viewing the past

How we describe ancient homes gives a glimpse into how we will be depicted.

modern designIf you’ve ever read the accounts of archeologists describing the homes and lifestyles of the ancients, it might make you wonder how future archeologists might describe how we lived in our homes. Would their description early twenty-first century living be accurate, or would their hypothesis fit their conception of their future homes and lifestyles?

Reading the accounts of archeologist Ralph Solecki in a July 11th item in the Wall Street Journal (Archeologist Ralph Solecki Recalls His Neanderthal Cave Discovery) about his excavations in Iraq, a description of a Neanderthal home site emerged. It appears that life and death revolved around a 3,000 square foot cave. Described to be roomier than the average single family home, it sounds as if the cave may have had futuristic style with its large flexible space and a 20 foot ceiling. Of course, the cave was engineered by nature and may have served as a shelter among other things; it appears as if the Neanderthal cave was where life and death was centered.

The home of modern humans seems to have evolved to encompass life by incorporating necessary spaces for various functions; such as separating areas for food (kitchen, dining room), sleeping, and congregating (living room, family room).

Technology has also played a major role in home development and design. Indoor plumbing and recent advances in fiber optic communications are examples of features and amenities that have been included as technology has advanced. Additionally, technology has also allowed for high density living; up until the late nineteenth century, building materials and techniques may not have allowed for the high rise building.

Lifestyle has been the driving force of home design since the industrial revolution and emergence of the middle class. By comparing homes built during various modern eras, you can observe changes in how we lived over the last one hundred years; the pre-war era home is different from today’s two-story modern house (which most homebuyers today consider a colonial). Today’s homes are increasingly informal and relaxed. It might have been thought to be ill-mannered to see the interior of the kitchen from other rooms during the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century; however, today it is common to have the kitchen open to other rooms. Additionally, the average home size has increased significantly through the years, increasing from an average size of about 980sf during the 1950’s to over 2,400sf in today’s average home.

High density living has also become progressively comfortable as well, which has become increasingly attractive to many who seek care free living. Since the first high rise, technology has introduced elevators, air conditioning, and other necessary amenities to today’s lifestyle – such as fitness and business centers.

Homes will continue to transform according to our needs and technological advances. Future homes will undoubtedly offer “flexible” spaces that can be used for various purposes, depending on your lifestyle. Rooms may be used for entertainment and work centers, and also allow for informal dining. It may be possible that the kitchen may become a flexible space as well, as we cook less in our homes.

As future homes could become the open space with 20ft ceiling, it may be that future archeologists would be more familiar with Neanderthal home than ours. And just as we have characterized Neanderthal living as “difficult,” future archeologists might also describe our lifestyle as “difficult” when they excavate our homes.

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2013

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