2016: The year in healthy homes

healthy house 2016
via montage

For almost a century, architects and designers have been working to design homes that are healthier for body and mind. In recent years, energy efficiency became paramount, and if not thought out carefully, could result in homes that were less healthy, due to lack of sufficient ventilation and moisture control. However heath and wellness has again become a big deal among architects, who realize that sustainability is about a lot more than just saving energy. The building industry is actually calling it "the next big thing." Stacy Glass of Cradle to Cradle notes:

“Millennials are so conscious about what they buy. They want to know what’s in it, how it’s made, who made it, and that they were paid a fair wage” Glass, a former green building materials distributor, confirms that the birth of a baby causes a lot of women to seek out low-emitting and chemical-free products and homes. “The most feverish calls I would get,” she says, “were from new moms.”

More in TreeHugger: Builder Magazine calls healthy homes “the next big thing”

TreeHugger is running a series that will continue into 2017, but that started with:

What is a Healthy Home

Lovell Health HouseLovell Health House, 1929. Credit: Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA./Public Domain
Today, a lot of people are thinking about how to build healthy houses once again, as we learn about the dangers from chemicals within the home and pollution without. And once again, architects people are realizing that our houses and workspaces have to do more than just provide shelter, and health is more than just physical.

There are so many aspects to designing a healthy home, including indoor air quality, light, thermal comfort, moisture control and noise. This was the first of a continuing series of posts that looked at the issue of designing a healthy home. More in TreeHugger: What is a “Healthy” home?

Antibiotic resistance will change the way we live

When writing about bathrooms in an earlier post, I suggested that Le Corbusier put a sink in the front hall of the Villa Savoye as an historical allusion. In fact, there is a much simpler and more straightforward reason: His client, like the clients for the Maison de Verre and the Lovell Health House, was a doctor and was obsessed about germs. People had known about germ theory since 1882, when Robert Koch identified that tuberculosis was caused by a bacillus, but they didn’t have antibiotics until after World War II.

They were obsessed about germs, a fear that went away when antibiotics were discovered. We are much more blase today, often taking the approach that we should be exposed to more germs to build up defenses. But this may change. More in TreeHugger: Antibiotic resistance will change the way we live

Those sinks really work;

A third of cases of gastrointestinal illness could be prevented through observing basic hand hygiene… Food poisoning – most of it caused by faecal bacteria from unwashed hands – costs the UK economy nearly £1.5bn a year.

More in TreeHugger: How disgust could lead to a cleaner, healthier world

Fighting disease with design: Light, Air and Openness

Maison Osenfant© Maison Ozenfant/ Le Corbusier
Where did minimalism come from? A fear of bugs.
Dirt and dust harboured germs that must be destroyed by fresh air and sunlight. Homes should be cleaned thoroughly every day and windows and doors opened each morning to let in the sun and air, to destroy the germs. Heavy drapes and curtains, thick carpets and old furniture with decorative features that harboured dust and microbes should be thrown out and replaced with simple, easily cleaned modern furniture and light, easily washed curtains.
More in TreeHugger: Fighting disease with design: Light, Air and Openness

Fighting disease with design: The Maison de Verre

maison de verreKelly Rossiter/CC BY 2.0
There is a lot to learn from these great modernist houses that might well be useful in the near future.
...it is clear that the source of our obsessions with hospital-like bathrooms and spotless kitchens, as well as the continuing interest in minimalist interior design, descends directly from the modernist obsessions with hygienic design that formed in the years before antibiotics, and that we can learn from to help cope in the years after antibiotics are gone.
More in TreeHugger: Fighting disease with design: The Maison de Verre

Why we got separate instead of open kitchens: It was thought to be a "clean machine"

Frankfurt KitchenMargarete Schütte-Lihotzky's Frankfurt Kitchen 1926/CC BY 2.0
The iconic Frankfurt Kitchen was designed to actually separate the process of cooking from the rest of family life, to be too small to eat in. How different this is from how people think today:
Our apartment kitchens are arranged in a way which completely separates kitchen work from the living area, therefore eliminating the unpleasant effects produced by smell, vapours and above all the psychological effects of seeing leftovers, plates, bowls, washing-up clothes and other items lying around.
More in TreeHugger: Why we got separate instead of open kitchens: It was thought to be a "clean machine"

Why do our cars have better air quality than our homes?

contaminantsConsumer product safety commision/Public Domain
Elon Musk's ventilation system in his car is a whole lot better than most of us have in out houses, and we should loear from him.
Inspired by the air filtration systems used in hospitals, clean rooms, and the space industry, we developed a HEPA filtration system capable of stripping the outside air of pollen, bacteria, and pollution before they enter the cabin and systematically scrubbing the air inside the cabin to eliminate any trace of these particles.
More in TreeHugger: Why do our cars have better air quality than our homes?

Ten things to do to have have a healthy home

lestoil ad© Lestoil/ how to dress for safe cleaning.
Now we start getting serious, about the things we should do to actually make our homes healthier. I start with what we can do right now in our existing homes, everything from the cleaners and stuff we bring into our homes, to simply taking off our shoes. More in TreeHugger: Ten things to do to have have a healthy home

How to build a healthy home, extreme dream edition

The latest post in the series is perhaps the most controversial. Readers disagreed with me about building on stilts, closing off the kitchen, building out of wood, building a detached house in the first place. Or even just dreaming about the perfect house instead of providing anything practical or real. But wasn't the point, really. There will be more practical examples to come in this series, including multifamily versions.

This was an attempt to put together all the ideas, everything I had been talking about so far. More in TreeHugger: How to build a healthy home, extreme dream edition

2016: The year in healthy homes
The beginning of a continuing series.

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