How buildings get smart

Owen Gibson is worrying about the slow arrival of the ‘smart home’ in The Guardian. Like him, I remember those Sunday Supplement photos of the prototypical wired home back in the Seventies (which always seemed to belong to Stirling Moss).

The problem is that our homes move to a different rhythm than the rest of our lives. They’re built to last 100 years or more and we don’t often change them (Changing Rooms notwithstanding). Maybe we should look at the way older domestic technologies were added – cooking hearths, window glass, electricity, mains gas, telephones – for clues as to how homes will stretch to wrap around these ‘smart’ additions?

The archaeologists and anthropologists (maybe the architects) might be more useful here than the techies and marketing people with their stupid adoption curves and demographics and surveys. Stewart Brand wrote about the way we change our dwellings over time in the excellent How Buildings Learn.