25 August 2011

the slow home movement

What is slow home design? Basically, it is the principle of slowing down to design homes and spaces that are sustainable, practical and functional.

The slow home movement is a response to the poor design practices that pervade the mass housing industry. Slow Home Studio, founded by principals John Brown and Matthew North in Calgary, Alberta, strives for a more “considered, calm and intuitive” approach to residential design. 

The concept is to use well-considered design principles to create smaller homes that will be both environmentally sustainable and literally so, in the sense of being built to endure.  The practice also includes remodels of existing, appropriately sized older homes that need updating.

Brown says in an interview with The Chicago Tribune  that a slow home is:
"reasonably sized and carefully designed to support its occupants. It might have an entry where family members can easily take off their boots, stash their keys and store their backpacks, for example. It might have a living space that encourages people to talk or read, not just watch television or surf the Internet. It's energy efficient, filled with natural light and designed for easy flow among rooms and access to the outside."
North, in an interview with The Calgary Herald says:
"I think the boom of the big-house era is coming to an end. So those houses will be less desirable and valuable as time goes on," North says . . . Expect a shift to smaller, more energy-efficient homes, North says, and a move away from homes on the fringes of cities. A decade ago, a 5,000-sq.-ft. home sounded like a dream to some. These days, that much square footage "sounds like a noose around your neck. There's uncertainty about the energy cost to heat your house."
Slow Home Studio offers "12 Steps to a Slow Home.",  very interesting how-to to get started on your own home.  And they offer weekend in-studio courses on slow home design, which I am excited to be participating in this Fall.

I'm a big fan of the slow home movement, especially since my focus is on redesign instead of consuming new.  What do you think of slow home design? What is your take on the concept and how do you incorporate it into your home?

1 comment :

  1. I enjoyed learning about slow homes and went to the slow home studio to learn more. We are currently making do in an old home on the outskirts of a small town but quickly becoming engulfed in sprawling subdivision.
    The only thing slow about our home is that it is a retrofitted approx. 40 yo cottage- and given it's shortcoming, the previous owners shouldn't have retrofitted it.
    I took the slow home test & it scored a 5. It is sorely lacking in storage, sufficient entry space, main door enters kitchen, bathroom is directly off dining room (ick), living space has difficult layout & conflicting focal points, dining room is more of a passthru with barely room for a table. This home fails on so many points & as the test suggests is not worth the investment for any slow improvements. Since it is not 'livable' by slow standards, its renovation was just a waste of materials.
    Our intention is to build a sustainable, off-grid home on our acreage. However, with the valuable lessons I have learned from this house, selecting home designs has been difficult. I know why it is called 'slow'- we are being very careful to consider the impact the design will have on how we live. Living here has been invaluable to the process of designing our new home.
    thanks for this post.... interesting


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