REVIEW of REVIEWS

House Changes Are Predicted

Sloping Roofs May Give Way to Flat Ones, Living Rooms May Be Built at Rear

HERBERT U. NELSON January 1 1931
REVIEW of REVIEWS

House Changes Are Predicted

Sloping Roofs May Give Way to Flat Ones, Living Rooms May Be Built at Rear

HERBERT U. NELSON January 1 1931

House Changes Are Predicted

Sloping Roofs May Give Way to Flat Ones, Living Rooms May Be Built at Rear

REVIEW of REVIEWS

HERBERT U. NELSON

THE assertion that the next decade will witness radical changes in the building of houses is made by Herbert U. Nelson, Secretary of the National Association of Real Estate Boards, (United States), in a recent number of the New York Herald-Tribune. Sloping roofs will give way to flat roofs, which then will be utilized for outdoor living rooms; translucent windows as big as store show windows will be used; and walls and partitions will be made much thinner than at present.

“The pitched roof will not be seen in the future," says Mr. Nelson. “It was brought here from the northern countries of Europe, where it was originated to shed snow and rain. The ‘pitch’ was relied upon to carry off the water. The modern downspouts and gutters and the waterproof character of the modern roofing materials make it unnecessary to pitch roofs now to combat the elements. There is no reason why a house cannot be roofed with a flat surface which can be used for an outdoor living room in these days of small building lots when yard and recreation space is at a premium.

“One sees flat roofs in some Southern cities, but they are beginning to appear in Northern cities and suburbs, and I predict that in time there will be no more pitched roofs in this country. One family has built an open fireplace on their roof garden, which they have landscaped effectively. It is one of the most pleasant places I know of. Nor do flat roof houses have to be monotonous. Ornamentation and special architectural treatment can make them as varied as the pitched roof type. A single room, boxed in any shape, can be erected on the roof so that the roof surface will form a sort of promenade around such a room. There are many other treatments that the architects can work out.

“The point is that people never have enough space, and there is a definite trend to search out all possible unused space in home construction. Why cover up the roof so it cannot be used, when the house can be made just as interesting architecturally with a flat roof?

“With physicians continually stressing the importance of adequate air and light, future generations are going to demand even more provision for these important elements, yet the growing congestion of our cities makes it difficult to get either. The home of the future, therefore, will be so constructed that it will receive two or three times the amount of air and light secured by the homes of today.

“I believe we will come to use opaque windows, such as those used in factories at present. The glass admits light, but cannot be seen through. These will be as large as some present-day store windows, which will give houses the

pleasing appearance of sun parlors. Several of these giant windows will be placed in each side wall, with the centre one of transparent glass.

“The basement will be eliminated entirely. It is costly, inefficient and serves few useful purposes to the modern family except as a storage place for the heating system. Heating systems will be in the garages which will be attached to the houses. Within the next ten or fifteen years, every house built will be built with a garage.

“Building lots will change in size, because of the advent of the attached garagé. Sites will be wider and shorter to accommodate the attached garage on the side. This tendency is so strong that it may affect architectural styles in that such designs will have to conform to the wider lots. The attached garage is, of course, a space saver. One does not require a deep lot as in the days when the barn was placed at the end of the backyard, probably in order to keep the stable odors as far as possible from the house. Perhaps people didn’t realize this when they began substituting garages for barns.

“Floor plans will be shifted so that the living room will appear at the back of the houses and the kitchen and service rooms on the street side. Living rooms were originally placed along the street because the street was thought of as a parkway, lined with trees and gently traversed by carriages. Then it was pleasant to sit on the front porch or to linger in the frontroom windows.

“Then, too, front yards were used as play places for the children and mothers sat on the verandahs with their sewing and watched their offspring romp close to the old-fashioned curb. Now, in our cities, the front is the very last place in which mothers want their children to be, and even suburban parents are fearful of passing automobiles.

“Fewer houses have porches, and no one in our cities wants to sit on them anyway. The dust, dirt and noise from the street, the automobile racing by, the thud of heavy trucks, make the front of the house a far from pleasant place in which to linger. Thus there is a tendency to turn houses around on their lots and place the living rooms at the back and the kitchens on ;he street. The living

room then can open on to the backyard, which can be made attractive with flowers and landscaping, and a far greater degree of quiet can be enjoyed by the home dweller.

“Walls and partitions will be thinner and thinner without destroying the durability of the house. There is already a trend in this direction, due to the improvement of insulating materials and the use of new wall materials. Centuries ago, when a man built a house, he usually built it of stone, with walls a foot and a half thick. He did this to keep his house as warm and dry as possible during bad weather. His construction kept his house cool in summer.

“Now, insulating materials of infinitesimal thickness will do this; and new building materials are providing durable walls that need be only a few inches thick. Most walls are eight inches under present building codes, but these codes will be revised in the future to permit four and, perhaps, even two-inch walls and partitions.

“Stop and think of the saving in cost of materials in such a change. In addition, there will be saving in usable space that will surprise the builder when he figures it out.

“Heat is required to make ice and to provide cooling systems. The house of the future will have one plant which will heat it, make its ice, and wash and cool its air when necessary. The future home dweller will not have to go to summer resorts in the hot weather. The cooling systems, that I am sure will come, will not only regulate the temperature throughout the house but will make it possible to regulate the temperature in an individual room. Picture the home owner of the future coming home on a sizzling hot evening and finding cool breezes playing through his bedroom.

“I do not think the public will accept some of the ultra-modern house ideas and designs that we have seen in the magazines recently. Our members get to know the public mind on this subject pretty well, and we find that the rank and file of people have very definite and deep-rooted ideas of what homes should be. They like improvements if they can’t see them, but if you change the house too radically, they won’t like it.”