The Functional Human, in Home Design

Homes are functional machines, although most people don’t consider this factor when designing a new home, or only as a side note.  Lets, for a moment, discuss the functional aspects of what humans have to deal with when functioning in a home solely from their point of view, and assume there is a fitting design to solve their daily and weekly tasks in order to save humans the maximum amount of time, thus providing extended opportunities to enjoy life.  It’s a house as machine examination!

For this article, we focus on the habits and routines of Humans, in order to create a more perfect home.

GOOD MORNING

Okay, so we wake up to start the day…

There could be an order to what we do, but lets just jump to the actual tasks and list them in no particular order:

  • Prepare and Eat Breakfast
  • Take a Shower
  • Shave, Brush Teeth and do other Bathroom Duties, that’s right I said ‘duty’. This can include brushing hair, putting on lotion/powder.
  • Prepare Clothing and Get Dressed
  • Associated activities include putting back the tooth brush/paste, soap, shampoo, towel, pajamas, turning on/off lights/vents, warming up water, cleaning shower/tub, cleaning bathroom floor and fixtures, cleaning mirror.

With early morning duties, all which consume our time, often our commute allowing for very little time to enjoy these activities, results in the fact that most people would like to see these activities done as efficiently as possible, to get them out of the way, to ensure one has a proper breakfast which is often ignored or put off and consumed during travel time, etc.  And it’s expected that after this morning transition from our deepest restful sleep that we will look fully awake and put together perfectly.  It’s just not a good time to be a human.

Then imagine this: we wake up and push a ‘morning prepare button’.  The water is preheated, our tools for bathroom activities are arranged on the sink, the lights/vents prepare themselves for our arrival and our cloths are arranged in a way for easy access for quick dressing.  Further as we enter the bathroom there is a place where we put our pajamas that ushers them to the laundry in a special container for bed clothing, the shower starts and we step in.  Upon completion there’s a warm towel reaching out to us for our use.  During the entire exchange breakfast, based on a menu we pre-prepared is, well, preparing itself in the kitchen and has delivered itself in the time we take to finish our bathroom duties and get dress.  Meal, ready for consumption, invites us to sit down, with the news on the tube or perhaps some background music, heck whatever our ideal routine desires.

Admittedly this sounds like a fiction from the future, but there are things we can do in our design of home to incorporate the functionality of every day living, as we already do.  Certainly keeping towels near the shower, or providing a laundry chute, perhaps locating a walk-in closet between the bathroom and bedroom in a way that doesn’t allow humidity to enter the closet where it could be absorbed.  Certainly we could provide means for individuals to arrange their ‘bathroom tools’ easily on the countertop, and make it easy to put them away, and set programming on lights, coffee pots and other items to help smooth over the somewhat complicated process of making one presentable.

Besides this morning routine, or for that matter the routine we take to make our way to bed, there are other functional elements that could and should be incorporated into every home.  Often ignored and forgotten, they can help take the edge off our requirements allowing us to be more efficient and thus save time, but more importantly help us from becoming dysfunctional.  When overwhelmed by too many things, one can loose time to be with family, take a walk to the park, to enjoy a quality life.  By shaving off the time it takes to make our home functional, by designing the functional machines they should be, we can improve our own lives one component at a time.  Lets look at a few things we all have to deal with, unless you’re the type to just hire someone to do it all.  If that’s the case, then you clearly can afford to do these things anyway, so why aren’t you?

Masonry Facade Repair Overview by Ed GreenBerg

The following, so well written, I had to share (with permission) for the benefit of others.  It is a comment in reference to a Crain’s article on scaffolding in NYC and why there is so much of it.

By Edward C. Greenberg; NYC copyright and intellectual property litigator and teacher • 4 days ago

Read more

Natural Flow Snow Melting System, Zero Energy Consumption

Natural Flow Snow Melting System, Zero Energy Consumption

We’re at that point in the year where the sun is starting to make its presence known by giving us extended day light hours.  But the effects of the cold acts like winter is an entity cuddled in a slingshot in that the cold of winter is about to hit us, along with snow and ice that makes a daily walk a risk taking adventure. Is there a way of guaranteeing that our walkways will be free of snow and ice year around?  I believe there is.

Read more

Proper Townhouse Gutter Detail

In order to ensure a dry townhouse for years and decades, one has to properly detail roof connections so that there are at least 2 different systems in place directing running water away from the home.  Here we examine the often overlooked townhouse gutter system which is typically slapped on the back of the house and glued in place.

Read more

Natural Flow Flood Prevention Drain System

Natural Flow Flood Prevention Drain System

We are proud to have developed a simple pipe system that prevents basement and cellar flooding due to a blockage in the house trap.  It’s a rather simple system that for a couple hundred dollars can spare a homeowner from thousands of dollars in damages, including sparing them from the week or so to make their flooded area ‘sewer free’ which is not an easy task and often leaves residue behind despite the best efforts. YUCK!

 

Read more

Efficiency of Home Design, the Laundry Machine

It’s looming, consuming, it’s laundry day.

Homes are functional machines (not if you choose the wrong Architect), although most people don’t consider this factor when designing a new home, or only as a side note.  Yet when choosing an Architect you hope, or assume, they know what they’re doing.  The truth is there might be passing consideration at best, for some of your home’s most important functional aspects, like your closets, laundry and that whole messy process.

Read more

Owner Occupied Duplex – On the Top or Bottom?

There are many advantages for a townhouse owner to occupy a lower duplex, or perhaps it is the top floor duplex they should seek, and while a very strong case can be made to put the owner of a townhouse on the lower floors, there are solid arguments for occupying the top two floors.  I, architect Nick Buccalo, will examine both possibilities and invite your comments on the issue.

Read more

The Ultimate Shared Living Suites – FOR DEVELOPERS

The Ultimate Shared Living Suites – FOR DEVELOPERS

This version is for the smaller walkup building of 25’x60′ in order to fit the programmatic components comfortably. It provides a way for a developer to accommodate more people within a building footprint and thus increase the yearly income.

The concept is simple, take what would normally be a three bedroom apartment and change it to 4 shared living suites where individuals get their own private suite, complete with a private bathroom, bedroom and living space, and then share only the kitchen and other building amenities.  For a 5 story walkup, the potential is for 19 ‘bedroom suites’ versus the conventional 5-3 bedroom apartments.  It is simple math from this point to understand that the suites are occupied with working adults while 2/3’s of the bedrooms from a standard apartment are occupied by children, or, that home office.

Read more

Analysis of Residential Stair Configurations for Townhouses

Analysis of Residential Stair Configurations for Townhouses

This is a very cut and dry analysis of four different stair configurations that could help generate an additional $54,000 in rental income from a 4 story townhouse type structure just by reconfiguring the stair, touched on in a previous article (which we would recommend reading).  The first option is the traditional townhouse stair, found in most townhouses in New York City.  Often this stair offers stunning architectural detail and should be preserved, but more often than not the original stair has been replaced with a metal stair, due to sagging or some other issue.  Sadly the replacements lack character and often do not fix the underlying issue to why they were sagging and are themselves sagging, causing stress fractures in party-walls at each end of the stair.

The advantages of replacing the stair are simple, it frees up square footage that can be used inside an apartment.  The following compares three different stairs, the traditional, the compact and the ‘extended landing’, and a new comer, the squarish stair which is the best option (< spoiler alert). It is noted as ‘Stair 8’ which reflects the number of versions we’ve studied to get to that point. This ‘best option 8’ is shown in the article ‘The Ultimate Townhouse Floor Plan’ released August 28, 2017, so take a look at that one as well.

Read more

Best Layouts for Townhouses – DIFFERENT SIZES

Best Layouts for Townhouses – DIFFERENT SIZES

The following studies are not for new construction, but rather for the traditional townhouses of varying lengths, from 35′ to 50′, representing the vast majority of townhouses in New York City.  The study examines the most efficient layouts for these variety of sizes and why they are efficient.

Efficient Layouts?  In architectural design, the efficiency phase of the design process is an effort to minimize circulation space or other ‘wasted space’ (like public spaces) so there is more square footage available for usable rooms, and, with the newly found square footage to allot that space according to hierarchy, that is the Great Room (Living, Kitchen and Dining, in that order) being the place where people spend most of their daytime hours and thus represents the highest priority and top of the hierarchical pyramid, followed by bedrooms, bathrooms and the other rooms.  To be efficient in architectural design means to leverage the available square footage to the best benefit of the end user.

Read more