Contributing Monkie Jennifer Buonantony
Published on October 22, 2008
There’s no arguing that people are more nomadic than ever before. Technology has made it easier to travel, communicate and move from place to place. So, why shouldn’t you have a house designed to suit your on-the-go lifestyle? Just as air travel, cell phones and the internet have made picking up and moving easier and more commonplace, our homes are changing with the times as well.
Buying and selling property could become a thing of the past — at least the way we know it. Instead of purchasing a plot of land with a house, what if all you bought was the house itself? That’s what French company Drop Architectes had in mind when they built their prototype “drop house”, which won the Algeco design contest.
The idea behind the drop house is that you can literally purchase your home, drop it wherever you want and live happily ever after. (Or if you get tired of the location, you can have the house picked up and transported someplace else by truck. For someone liked me, who’s lived in four cities in the last several years, this would be great!)
The houses are made with one central space that serves like a satellite from which the other components are extended like drawers. These “drawers” are actually small units with varying volumes that serve as other rooms, and include the kitchen, entryway, bathroom and two others. The nice thing about the drop house is that while these extensions can be added to the original assembly, the house can also be closed up into one contained unit. This makes it easy to lock it up when you’re away for extended periods of time and easy to transport it while staying within the limits of the road gauge!
While clearly a forward-thinking design with a lot of potential, the drop house is also a prototype that invokes many questions.
The idea of a house that can extend and compress may sound simple and easy, but what about basic things like wiring for electricity and plumbing, which need to be more permanent? How well is this type of house insulated from noise and weather, and what system of heat and air is in place for climate control? And because the drop house has no foundation and only a basic roof, there is no basement or attic… what about storage?
More importantly, aside from saving space and construction costs, how green is the drop house? Is this just a cool concept or is it environmentally responsible? And at the risk of getting philosophical, how will a culture of portable houses affect the way land is owned, used and cared for? You can’t just expect to drop your house on any open plot of land like some early settler and stake your claim — which means a new system of land development would eventually have to occur.
The idea that people will move their houses as easily as their possessions may work in theory, but this prototype has a lot of demands to fulfill before it can become a reality. If the past is any indication of the future, technology evolves in unpredictable ways to meet our changing needs, so as we travel farther and move more, the drop house might have to go through its own evolution.