Hunter and I have been talking lately about adaptation of the home; about the possibility of changing the American consensus to realize that adapting to its surroundings is beneficial for all rather than filing a common American stereotype. The symbol of a home in America translates through various styles, across decades and changing culture, but holds a sense of conformity that has hardly broken free in the last century. Styles are confined to restrictive names which lump them into definitive genres rather than separate functional pieces. Couldn’t they be classified a different way? Many people become uninterested when you mention modern style homes, responding that they are cold and uninviting. Modern doesn’t have to mean concrete floors and stoic presence but rather where functionality meets climate adaptation.
Many cultures and generations throughout time have adapted their homes to changing climatic conditions, however Americans have deviated far from this natural model. Growing up my mother always taught Native American history as a 3rd grade teacher. Each year she would set up various objects for students to examine. These objects always intrigued me, provoking a sense of curiosity which I would later know is what made me a architect: they drew me to both culture and built form. Each band of tribes adapted their home according to what was available in that region. Why have we gotten so far away from this principle? It is not doing us any favors to adhere to a commercialized model of the home.
Natural disasters have not been uncommon this year with massive flooding in the South, earthquake driven tsunamis in Japan, and wide-spread tornado outbreaks in the Midwest. Each time these disasters wipe out entire towns and neighborhoods the community strives to rebuild despite their known location risks. I always wonder why these communities don’t re-adapt their homes for a better chance of survival the next time around. Couldn’t homes be constructed that float with the rising tides? Why doesn’t the tornado stricken Midwest build primarily underground, with each home having an underground tornado safe room?
Could this be the new trend for architects, climatic adaptation? We think it should be anyway, here is what is going on in the realm of defensive home design:
- TinyHouseDesign.com provides designs for underground homes made from concrete tubes
- Tornado Proof Home: Information on what it takes to tornado proof a home
- Korvelo Group is breaking out of the stereotype and researching defensive homes
- Jon Nunan’s book, “The Complete Guide to Alternative Home Building Materials & Methods” offers unique ideas on creating a functional, climate proof home