WSJ Article Advocates Small Homes

Krista sent me an email last night alerting me to an article by the Wall Street Journal that is advocating small houses.

Alex Frangos the author asks: What will the energy-efficient house of the future look like?

The Wall Street Journal asked four architects to design an energy-efficient, environmentally sustainable house without regard to cost, technology, aesthetics or the way we are used to living.
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The idea was not to dream up anything impossible or unlikely — in other words, no antigravity living rooms. Instead, we asked the architects to think of what technology might make possible in the next few decades. They in turn asked us to rethink the way we live.

“This is a time of re-examining values, re-examining what we need,” says one of our architects, Rick Cook, of the New York firm Cook + Fox. “We are re-examining the idea of home.”

At the very end of the article is a very important statement that should help those of us in the small house movement:

But the most important order for Mr. Mouzon is to make the house compact. “The smaller thing you can create, the more sustainable it is.”

In fact, that’s something that all four of our architects agree on: Americans need to learn to live in smaller spaces if we are going to make an impact on the environment.

Read the complete article at the Wall Street Journal site.

Photo Credit: Wall Street Journal

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Jesse - April 28, 2009 Reply

Thanks for this link, I stopped reading the WSJ years ago!

The hardest part of this whole idea is that last line – getting Americans to downsize their mcmansions (I don’t only mean the 5,000 sq ft ones!) is going to take a seismic shift in thinking. Heck, just getting some people out of their SUVs and into a compact wagon can be like pulling molars! But I agree that every little step helps, as long as you watch where you step!

Kent Griswold - April 28, 2009 Reply

Your right Jesse, but getting the message to the masses is important and big magazines such as the WSJ will have more readers than the Tiny House Blog, etc., so I’m excited to see it published…Kent

D Henningsen - April 28, 2009 Reply

“Advocates” might be a little strong …as you said, at the very end of the article they mention “size”. Yesterday when I saw this WSJ article titled “The Green House of the Future” and the size of the homes pictured, I only chuckled – were they referring to the structures we live in or our environment?

    Kent Griswold - April 28, 2009 Reply

    Good point, I agree the houses they drew up are rather on the large size, and they didn’t really say anything about downsizing till the end.

Steve Mouzon - April 29, 2009 Reply

I’m the architect of the fourth design, which is called SmartDwelling I, and is actually much smaller than it looks… only 1,200 SF of heated space. My colleagues at the New Urban Guild (www.newurbanguild.com) learned a lot of lessons when we fostered the Katrina Cottages movement after the hurricane a few years ago, and which we’re applying to the SmartDwelling Project. SmartDwellings will average about half the size of what Americans have been building pre-meltdown.
FWIW, many of the principles which underlie the SmartDwelling Project can be found on http://www.originalgreen.org. Check out the blog… this post is the first of what I plan on being a long thread looking at tiny buildings:
http://www.originalgreen.org/OG/Blog/Entries/2009/3/23_Tiny_Places_-_Mike_%26_Patty.html

Dimwit - April 30, 2009 Reply

I like how Steve’s design is traditional looking. It would be acceptable in any burg in N.A. The biggest issue I have with all these designs is that every one of them is designed for California it looks like. I’d love to see how a garden wall works in N.D. in Jan. Having “moisture membranes” in the U.P. in Feb.!

Really though, any dialog is good. At least people are becoming sensitized to the suburban blight that’s been happening for the last 50 years.

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