One step forward, two back
Russell Degnan

No news to comment on at the moment so I'll mention an interesting article on Salon.com (hat tip: John Massengale). Despite green awareness being much higher in the United States, the size of the houses is more than negating any benefits from good design.

Here in Victoria the government has just brought in the 5 star energy rating for new houses. The enormous McMansion on the front of the site is a dead giveaway that it doesn't include any references to house size in it. (An aside - that house may be north facing, but it has enormous windows and no eaves, and is built almost against the edge of the block. How did it get 5 stars?) Instead, the site offers a neat contradiction by saying both that: "Apartments and terrace houses have a natural advantage in energy efficiency." and that smaller blocks are a "challenge". Whereas, the Salon article points out that design can be far more flexible on smaller blocks.

Now that the building industry is being forced into line on green building standards the Planning industry needs to do likewise. Large block-sizes, discrimination - not to mention nimbyism - against terrace houses will work against any good the new legislation might achieve. Unless house-size is incorporated into the next round of green building legislation, but that would really cause some angst.

Sterner Matters 25th July, 2004 20:00:34   [#] 

Comments

Newfound living
There was an interesting documentary yesterday on channel 2, about middle-density housing, and how it has become ever increasing. Some interesting stats that arose, were that the average household used to contain around 5.2 persons (1950's-80's), and that this figure has now reduced to around 3.2 persons, and is set to continue descreasing.

Today, people are using the standard .04 acre block to its fullest capacity, and that more house is taking over land, with a small occupation (that is the ratio of the occupants in the house compared with house size). Out of this, has arisen the notion that housing estates have become more popular with their set plans and designs.
People Planner  2nd August, 2004 09:46:45  

Only for some
Average household size is a thing I keep meaning to write about, but never got to it (mostly because it would involve real research). I touched on a little what I think of it here though.

Basically, outer suburban housing is popular with the same people it always has been; namely, young families. They are building bigger houses now, on smaller lots, for fewer occupants, it is true. But that is more of a reflection of the changes in the relative costs of house construction and land. The city's overall average household size is being determined by other factors.

Medium-density housing on the other hand, has not become popular with young familes (yet), but it is very popular with the large demographic of unmarried single people that didn't exist 20 years ago when people married earlier in life (and more often).
Russ  2nd August, 2004 19:28:49