Flex Space in Home Design

Flex Space in Home Design

Today’s Smaller Home Design Schemes Benefit from Flex Space Architectural Concepts.

Hundreds of years ago, the Japanese understood that they were an increasing population on relatively small islands, compared with the other mainland continents.  Flex Space in home design was used by their population, in the form of simple rectangular houses arranged in rigorous grid modules (in their floor plan layout), with Shoji screens.

Oriental Historical Cultures, Multi-functional Rooms and Flex Space In-home Design

Shoji screens are made of rice paper and wooden frames and act as sliding walls or sliding doors to partition rooms off from adjacent rooms.  Why?  The people on that island found that certain rooms types, like bedrooms, had space in them that could be used during the day, when not sleeping, for other purposes like dining or living.  The Japanese understood that everyone’s house could be smaller, and thereby have more room on the islands for other activities and a future population.  Most of the then current population adhered to this space-saving technique, and it has been popular for centuries in their culture.  Chinese folding screens date back to the Han dynasty (200 BC).  The Portuguese became aware of Japanese screen in 1543 AD.  The American government’s trade sponsored visit of Commodore Perry in 1853 resulted in the importing of Shoji screens into our developing culture.  They seem to have influenced our culture primarily in an artistic context until now.

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Emerging smaller house designs

It is only recently, with the economic necessities of smaller residential designs, that the Shoji screen concepts are beginning to be seen as useful, with an eye to their original purpose.  America appears to have an newly emerging desire for particular rooms in households to perform 2 or more functions.  This is due to leaner economic times, requiring houses to be smaller and less costly.  Due to smaller square footages, the idea of moving walls or interior sliding doors to use that formerly dedicated guest bedroom for normal daily activities is quite appealing to many down-sizing house buyers.  Why waste all that space that has to be cleaned, heated, air-conditioned for Aunt Maude when she visits once every 2 years for a week?  Why not consider a system of sliding or folding interior doors to allow that space to be enjoyed every day, as part of the main Living Room, the Family Room, child’s bedroom, dining, or other daily used space?

America’s socio-economic trends impacting the development of compact house plans

This is just one of the emerging strategies employed by Rand Soellner HOME ARCHITECTS TM for their latest small house designs: their Cardinal Camp Cottage series.  Flex space in home design signals a fundamental difference in American house architecture.  This represents a confluence of forces:
–  Green Design principals, encouraging all of us to not waste as much as we used to (hence have possibly more modest houses, especially if our household budgets demand this).
– An overall leaner U.S. and Global economy, in part brought about by the over-building of speculative larger houses all over the United States,  so much so that this over-supply of houses has severely stalled residential construction for about a year so far.  This is forecasted to improve as this oversupply is consumed, during the next several months, but still serves as a harsh warning to us all not to overbuild again.
– An aging Baby Boomer population desirous of down-sizing everything, including their personal residences, so that they cost less to maintain, heat and cool, and are easier to clean and use as the occupants and these new, smaller houses age.

Of course, you aren’t going to be seeing many rice paper moving partitions in America.  That material was a significant part of a foreign Oriental culture.  We can likely expect American tastes to dictate the materials used for such operating partitions in the USA.  My guess is that wooden doors will do just fine.  Some people may want walnut, others a simple paint grade  Masonite hollow core door, and others possibly may prefer a stained white pine intermediate option with a bit of surface embossing detail to give a richer feeling.

The main idea is that there will probably be some form of multi-functionality developing in new, smaller house designs in America.  For those of you so interested, please review Rand Soellner Architect’s offering of these, by scheduling an appointment to visit him to see all of the variations possible.

Contact for Flex Space in Home Design :

Rand Soellner Architect    1-828-269-9046 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              1-828-269-9046      end_of_the_skype_highlighting   www.HomeArchitects.com

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