The Internet of Things might change the way you live your life within your house, but we’re not quite at the point where it’s having a huge effect on the way your house is designed, says architect Marc Kushner. Kushner, the CEO of Architizer.com, describes some of the other radical changes we can come to expect from residential architecture, including micro-apartments in New York, less space devoted to cars (as personal ownership plummets thanks to services such as Uber), and greater emphases on shared public space within a development.
Marc Kushner: Residential architecture in general is going to go through quite a bit of changes over the next few decades. The important thing to think about when you think about a field as fast as residential architecture — you have to think locally. Because a house in New York is a lot different than a house, say, in Seattle or in India or in England. Each of those cities have different forces acting on it. In New York, you're going to see apartments get smaller and smaller. So Mayor Bloomberg had an initiative for 250-square-foot micro apartments, which currently is illegal in New York. But as you start to shrink the apartment size, architects are thinking about how to make up for that lost space with new social amenities, new public spaces, new ways for people to interact with each other and with the city.
When we think about the future of houses, lately the big buzzword is the Internet of Things. And the Internet of Things is going to change the way that we live the same way that the iPhone changed the way that we communicate. But it's a hard to understand exactly how that's going to resonate with architecture right now. I think one thing that's a lot more obvious is the Internet of Transportation. And when you think about something like Uber and as that starts to grow and people stop owning cars, that's going to have a massive effect on the cities where we live. All of a sudden we're not going to need giant parking lots; we're not going to need parking structures. Streets will be able to be shared by cars and by pedestrians as cars get smarter. That's going to have a gigantic effect on the buildings that we build.
The Internet of Things right now as it's affecting the house is stuff like the Nest thermostat, which is a smart thermostat that you can also control from your iPhone or from your phone as you're away from the house. It's about smart locks that you don't need a key for. It can recognize you or the digital signature of your phone to open up the door for you. Houses are getting smarter. Things are getting smarter. Refrigerators are going to know when to order food for you. That's all amazing, but that's not necessarily directly going to impact the spaces where we spend our time.
So, when you think about designing a house, when an architect designs a house, that's a huge responsibility for an architect because this is the place where people grow up; where they have dinner with their family; where they fight with their family; or they love their family. The spaces shape those relationships. I know in my house growing up I had the bedroom that was right off of a balcony so everyone would see me going to the bathroom and everyone would see me in a towel and I was a fat and awkward kid and I hated that. I hated that feeling of everyone seeing me. And that a hundred percent shaped me into who I am today. That physical experience of occupying that house and the decision that one architect made 10 years before I was born made me and gave me the personality that I have today. That's an awesome responsibility that architects have.