Last night, I streamed the film “Room” on Amazon Prime. I’d intended to watch this at the cinema a few years ago but never got round to it.
The basic premise is that Joy, the lead character was kidnapped at 17 and held captive in a “room” in a garden for 7 years, with her being raped by the captor, “Old Nick” and having a son Jack whose only life experience is this 8 foot by 10 foot garden shed.
As a property writer (and former English teacher) like all good novels and films, this one made me think.
About lack of freedom – how did Joy and Jack cope daily in such a confined space without going mad?
About what we need to live – mum and son had food, water, and a skylight but no access to people or outdoors.
About microspaces– is it possible to live in small spaces?
In 2012, we bought a new touring caravan, on a bit of whim (and sold it 3 years later) and that was an absolute genius of design of how to cram everything into a small space.
The comfortable front couches converted into a huge double bed with a dining table forming the base. The kitchen had flip-up worktops, an oven, a fridge, a microwave, a sink cover to use as preparing space. There was a slimline shower cubicle, cassette toilet and sink and to the rear a mini diner and bunk area which could be adapted to 4 additional beds, with a concertina door separating the two areas.
I loved it and having spent a month in it in France in 2014 I never got bored with its mini dimensions – although we obviously didn’t sit in it daily and nightly, 24/7, like Joy and Jack did in their space.
I think the main difference though was the abundance of light.
Huge windows, three roof lights and a large glass sunroof meant it was awash with sunshine and permanently warm, even in snow, when we toured in winter.
I think that developers, house builders, architects could learn a lot from caravan and static home design.
Firstly, include lots of glass – our current home has expansive light in the kitchen due to French doors and two separate windows. The bedrooms are light too with generous glazing. Our old home, an Edwardian villa, had vast original sash windows and was awash with light (and draughts) and I think natural light is key in a home.
Secondly think logically in design.
En suite shower rooms should be standard in new builds and is a bath in a family bathroom necessary? Maybe with young families in mind, possibly, but we didn’t need access to a bath with a 5 year old daughter in a caravan in 2012.
Get rid of garages.
I can’t think of a bigger waste of space in 2018 than the inclusion of single, integral or double garages on new developments, I’ve blogged about this before,and met with some resistance, but Persimmon, Bovis et al would do well to say to homebuyers I believe – garages are not included though drives and gardens will be bigger and we can install garden officesor sheds at a small extra cost.
As the government commits to 300,000 new homes a year, will any property developers out there grasp the nettle and create new developments that are different?
What do you think?