ruminations about architecture and design

Sunday, August 4, 2013

the suburban elysium

Human beings like to live in houses. I believe that the desire to have an individual nest, with a certain amount of distance to the nest of the next person, is a fundamental desire. As soon as economic conditions reach a certain level people build houses. Even if economic conditions aren't quite ideal, people build houses--and they build them out of the wrong materials, in the wrong place, and without all the features that would make their life comfortable. But, we're happier when we have our own space.

If you believe the claims I've just made, you're very gullible, but if you're living in a house and are happy, then you support my argument. If you're living in a more efficient dwelling system, which I will refer to in a very general way as "multi-family" then you will probably admit that you long for a house, particularly on those occasions when you are beginning to aspire to the murder of some particularly annoying neighbor.

In the end, it comes down to energy for transportation systems. A city is more efficient than a suburb, but without trucks or trains or cars, everyone would be dead in a week. (Well, not everyone; those who turned to cannibalism first would last longer.)

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