June 17, 2021
Whenever we look into the future we do so through the lens of the present. Projecting how our houses will be in the coming decades is no different.
Much of the standard home equipment that we already have seems futuristic; virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri or Echo; connectivity from our living rooms with any corner of the globe; robots that clean and cook etc. As the pace of technological change picks up these advances will look quaint in a few years. Fasten your seatbelts because the future is snapping at our heels and it’s going to be life-changing. We have gathered together 10 predictions regarding future houses that are already underway: what will they be like? How will they be organised?
Architect: Fran Silvestre Arquitectos
Photography: © Diego Opazo
The motor of the futuristic house will be technology. However, it’s important to bear in mind that technology is a means towards an end and not an end in itself. The futuristic house will also be a futuristic home together with all those words entail. Technology should make life easier, help improve our quality of life and keep us connected but is no more than a tool. The architecture and interior design of houses will still be subject to the same criteria. The way homes change through the seasons, how they connect with the outdoors, the threshold of private and public,… These physical characteristics will continue to be immutable.
Anyone who uses a phone app connected to a piece of home equipment like a thermostat or lighting is experiencing the Smart Home. Similarly, the internet of things (IoT) is an extension of a technology that already exists. These buzz terms for the interconnectivity of fridges, lighting sensors, home entertainment centres, surveillance cameras etc. will set the standard for future homes. As our homes become smarter, however, we will in fact go to greater lengths to hide this technology, which will become seamlessly integrated with the surfaces that define our living spaces. Cables and switches will become antiques as connections and power sources virtually disappear.
At its most basic a house is simply a shelter from the elements, a collection of rooms where we do carry out different activities. How those spaces relate to one another and how they are configured depends largely on changes to society. The popularity of the open plan kitchen /dining/living room in recent decades, for example, reflects women’s liberation. This trend is likely to remain the norm going forward with one important addition: the homework space.
Houses of the future will be smaller. As the trend towards living alone continues to grow the percentage of one-person households will continue to increase. Smaller houses and apartments will nevertheless still be expected to deliver the same functions; kitchen, dining, sleeping, working. This is where clever mechanisms and technology will provide solutions. Like the Murphy bed that is stored vertically when not in use we will find new ways to use furniture and fittings to concentrate multiple uses within a smaller footprint.
If we compare houses to cars, the car has made huge leaps and bounds since its invention during the late 19th Century. On the other hand, the house has remained to all intents and purposes the same for hundreds of years. That’s because houses today are built in very similar ways to times gone by: a series of wet trades that are carried out on site. The future, however, will see much more off-site assembly which will mean more precision and efficiency in costs. Watch out also for 3D printing, its evolution will not only impact design but also construction.
In the same way that the internet connects computer terminals within a network-based, communications infrastructure powering our homes in the future will work on the same principle. Every individual house and building will become a power plant with renewable energy sources connected, like today’s power grid. Rather than simply consume electricity this network will allow houses to sell back and buy electricity from the grid.
There was a time when past futurologists believed we would be satisfying our daily nutritional needs with pills in the future. How wrong they were. The kitchen not only continues to be one of the most important spaces of the contemporary home but will take on even more prominence with developments in our diet and food consumption habits. The trend towards designer kitchens will become more marked buoyed by ever more sophisticated electro-domestic appliances which will make dining at home more and more like the experience of professional kitchens.
Our wellbeing will be centre stage in the future bathroom. This means having a much more interactive environment. Built-in sensors for bathroom cabinet mirrors and WC waste will monitor our health. Pampering equipment that today we have to go to a professional Spa to enjoy will be standard fare. The bathroom of tomorrow will be even more of a room than it is today, so the area dedicated to the bathroom is going to increase in size.
Customisation of our home environments is going to much more affordable in the future. Choice and adaptability will define a new way of decorating our interiors. Quality materials that are capable of being recycled will become more prominent. We are about to embark on a revolution in screen and monitor technology. Tactile surfaces will become interactive. This too will impact interior design with entire walls becoming high-definition screens for images that change with the touch of a button.
Both farming and gardens are going to change radically with greater appreciation and understanding of the interconnected ecosystem and the importance of insects and indigenous species of plants and animals. The way we farm the land and use it recreationally will become more ecological and sustainable. This means less hard landscaping with a greater emphasis on lawns. Terraces will become outdoor rooms and we’ll spend more time in our gardens. However, there’ll be a clearer separation between manmade and raw nature.
The futuristic house will still form part of a neighbourhood or community. In fact, the growing popularity of shared living doesn’t just reflect pressure on urban space but also our need to belong. Tomorrow’s communities will be more dispersed, reflecting our global connectivity. But they will also be more local. Allotments, communal gardens, the local pub and shopping locally will all convert our neighbourhoods into an extension of our homes.
The Garden City planners of the 19th believed the future of the house was all about the suburb living within an Arcadian landscape. In the post WWII era Buckminster Fuller believed that the house would become a mass manufactured product, the prototype of which was his Dymaxion House. Today we are putting our faith in smart homes. All these visions have played a part in shaping the future of houses, reflecting the evolution of the modern home, providing levels of comfort and wellbeing that previous generations could only dream about. The only thing that we can be completely sure of is that things that we haven’t even imagined yet will influence futuristic houses.
Houses in the future will still be recognisable to house dwellers today. The difference will be in the ether and behind the walls with hidden technology and the greater availability of things which we consider to be luxury items today. The future home is going to be where we work, socialise, live and rest. It will become an even more important hub which will directly affect the communities where houses are located. Its features will evolve to answer these requirements.
We are going to be much more conscious of energy use. Smart meters, home battery packs and solar panels are now beginning to make a real impact on house design. But very soon we will think of our homes like products with an energy efficiency rating, although this legislation exists now it will become much more of a determinant when buying and selling houses.