The future is here. We’re living there now. Just like Tomorrow’s World predicted, we’re living in pods and eat our food in tablet form. Fully clothed, we enter space-age washing stations for a fast drying hose down, and float to work on hover-boots.
Actually, only the pod part is correct. I’ve been researching different cities online. Everywhere has a similar, even stereotypical development: it’s a block of bijou, futuristic shells, or super-space-age, designer pads (studio flats, in reality.)
They are proving very hard to let, anyone who imagined that tenants will choose, freely and willingly to live that way long-term are avaricious wishful-thinkers. You can always find a studio flat. They are everywhere. There’s always a vacancy, but I wonder if developers are asking why they are so unpopular, and why the turnover is so rapid.
In telling and related news, I understand that the Irish government, when not trying to haul itself out of that notorious financial mess, has also heroically banned bedsits. I’ve always thought this was an especially miserable way to live: everything crammed into one tiny room, with a shared bathroom on a landing. I realise that finances dictate how others live, but they’ve always struck me as grim and unhygienic: drying clothes in the same room you cook, eat and sleep, is not a good idea.
Studio flats are at least granted a separate bathroom, although I am scanning the ads for a ‘shower-room/kitchen-diner’ because you just know it’s going to happen one day. Some studios are better designed than others, allowing space for vital fittings, like desks, which are compact rather than absent.
Apart from well-placed, well-managed, well-built, well-designed flats and homes, occupiers want room to manoeuvre. Urban newbuilds are small enough as it is, and so the idea that we might actually choose to live in a studio, and not be compelled to move in through desperation and then get the hell out asap is ridiculous.
Compromise is essential. T’s flat was tiny, but well thought out on his part. He didn’t collect music, or books, but had to decide between a cupboard (mmm…cupboards) and installing a dishwasher. The dishwasher ended up in the cupboard. In newbuild studios, everything folds up into the wall or into itself until the whole thing folds up into the developer’s arsehole. It’s like Inspector Gadget goes to IKEA, and it’s not conducive to modern living, happiness, or long term occupancy.
Actually, I’m being too reasonable, aren’t I? I mean seriously, what are these developers thinking: are they stupid, or are they as small as The Borrowers, and assume that everyone else is the same size? That’s the only possible excuse.
Builders have stopped building, and most developers have stopped developing. So: in the meantime, please can architects keep on…architecting? I mean, ask tenants of buy-to-let flats how they want to live. They may well have a checklist, like I do. Close to the top will be separate rooms, and enough space for energetic star-jumps. Or is that just me?