Saturday, February 04, 2006

Homes reflect our loss of community

Have you ever noticed that home design over the last 100 years have changed, and with each change the dweller's connection with their neighborhood has been lost? Look at these examples taken from Lincoln, Nebraska. (I chose Lincoln because it is a hearland community that in many ways typifies America.

Notice house is small. Very small when you consider that int 1900 the average size family was much larger than in 2000. The porch is the prominant feature. Both the house and the lot are narrow so on either side, not too far away are the neighbors. With the home being so small, it is easy to imagine that the family used the porch as an extention to the rest of the home.

1950Post WWII, the house is still small, but now situated parallel to the street. Thus the neibors walls, while still close to the home structure, have a feeling of being further from the living space. Also, look how much deeper the front lawn has become.

1980This home shows a maturing of some principles started in the post-WWII era. The front yard is deeper and while the two houses are very close in space, one gets the feeling that that isn't space that a person would normally use. There is an active side of the yard and an inactive side. The active side is dominated by concrete. Notice also that the front door is now more difficult to reach for any visitor.

What feature on this house is more noticable than anything else? If you didn't say garage, then you and I are looking at different pictures. Interestingly, several features have re-immerged from the 1900 home. First, the porch. But I get the feeling that this porch is more decorative than useful. Second, the front yard is smaller. But then again, it seems that the yard is completely unusable. In fact, this house is build for people who own garage door openers. They drive up, pull in, and spend 95% of their time inside.