Free thoughts in a sunny London day. I see all those office skyscrapers (for banks and big corporations?), all those apartment building, I read on Facebook that a friend just bought a family house, and consider the wish of many young people being to have a house, their own private space. I must admit, I’m myself lucky, for I spend my time in quite decent private spaces in Barcelona and London. But I think, is it the best way for us to live? Before the advanced stages of industralization, before the bourgeoisation (?) of life, and the creation of the capitalist welfare state, people used to live in shared, not very comfortable spaces. So indeed there is a material improvement in having our own space, for our families, but there is also a social, environmental and emotional cost in it: we build walls around our extended protected selfs (i.e. I and my family), separating us from other people (the community) and nature (Earth). We have grown to belief in this system as the natural order of things: ‘who doesn’t want to have a place to live? A place to be intimate and keep our own privacy?’ equals to ‘who doesn’t want to have a big house?’. Well I don’t. And I presume many don’t either.
Can we then take another step to find new living-space alternatives that on the one hand let us keep our privacy and intimacy (essential for the development of the individual), keeping a good quality of life, but on the other create connections, facilitate relationships, and develop communities between us, allowing real sharing of goods, values, emotions, ideas, etc. At this moment the model is have ‘the flat’ and develop sharing in the neighbourhood. But can we think of another type of living space different than the flat, one that reflects the values of a sharing society?
Let’s say, for example, that the living room becomes a common room, that books, records or whatever is not stored anymore in our houses but in common spaces, that kitchens become community kitchens, where people can cook together. This will create more community spaces. We can also think of different degrees of ‘communitarisation’ of private spaces e.g. keep a small kitchen, for when we want to cook alone, a small library, etc. But surely, this solution will probably not satisfy everybody. Not everybody wants the same – many would still want to have their private space, that’s it -, thus they probably won’t look for the same. Perhaps diversity is the word. So if diversity is the way, let’s allow diverse models to emerge. Now governments, financial institutions (i.e. banks) and society keep encouraging the ‘private flat model’ (to satisfy the I-want-a-big-house feeling), in detriment of other alternatives in which many people will have greater satisfaction developing aspect of their lives now they can’t even envisage. We should then develop new financial, legal, social structures and technology that allow for this diversity in housing to emerge (just recently a friend of mine (@indy_johar) has launched wikihouse.cc, making easy house DIY design). Do not impose one solution, allow for the many to emerge.