In the 20th century, forecasters predicted we would be living in homes complete with inflatable furniture, paper chairs and robot servants. While few, if any, of their predictions have come true, it's always been fascinating to consider housing's next evolutionary step. From the rather odd to the simply wonderful, here are seven innovative housing trends that have already begun to emerge and we might be seeing more of in years to come.
This pre-packaged take on bespoke real estate is rapidly gaining in popularity, offering buyers the chance to live out the ultimate homeowner's fantasy. You can order a kit tailored to your tastes with individualised fittings, cladding and roof tiles. Once it arrives it's an impressively fast build project, so you can settle into your new, personalised home much sooner.
2. Capsule apartments
The pioneering example of these is Tokyo's Nakagin Capsule Tower, unveiled in 1972. Each capsule is outfitted like a space shuttle, with a desk, bed, phone and even a miniscule bathroom crowded into fewer than ten square metres. Each room is stacked on top of the other, the whole building a intruiging facade of washing-machine like boxes, now blackened slightly from city life.
3. 3D printing
An even more modern take on the kit home, the once impossible notion of 3D printed homes is quickly becoming a reality. By building up layers of concrete and cement, Chinese construction company WinSun has created a sprawling 3D printed villa with ornate balconies and dormer windows. The fact that it complies with China's safety standards makes this technology closer to a living trend than ever before.
4. Rooftop properties
Appearing in cities all over the globe, these developments make use of formerly vacant roof space, creating homes with 360-degree vistas across metropolitan landscapes. One particularly inventive complex is the 25 villas squeezed over a shopping centre in Hengyang, China, the spacious grid pattern and neat shrubbery like a replica of quintessential American suburbs.
5. Passive houses
For the environmentally conscious homeowner, passive homes are an aspirational standard. On average, they only consume one quarter of the energy of a traditional home, using insulation instead of over-relying on radiators or air conditioning. The only drawback is that the continually re-circulated air can become rather stuffy. Increasingly they're being covered with plants or 'living roofs', improving insulation and often lasting longer than a conventional roof.
6. Tiny houses
The 'tiny house movement' is a sweet, minimalist trend for properties that are typically between 100-400 square feet in size. For such a small space to work, it requires careful planning and ingenuity. However, they can help people declutter their lifestyles and lead to creative home designs, from mock-Victorian villas to floating cottages and woodland retreats.
Once architects made every attempt to hide concrete, but the material has since evolved into an important feature of the post-industrial aesthetic. From pale grey, raw concrete exteriors to shimmering, polished concrete flooring, the material lends a cooling, clean appeal to home design in all its forms.
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