I grew up in big old houses with well-proportioned rooms, no central heating, no TV, and servants. At one stage we had a butler, two maids, a house-boy, and a full-time gardener—which was excessive even in those days. The butler had little to do except open the door and clean the silver.
Living in large, drafty homes was something of an Anglo-Irish tradition—the size of your dwelling announcing your status to one and all—but I eventually came to the conclusion that I would prefer somewhere small, warm and cozy—and without a retinue to cook and clean on my behalf.
Just as well given the occupation I opted for. Subject to rare exceptions, writers rarely do more than eke out a living. But writing compensates wonderfully in other ways—and is endlessly satisfying. And through it, I have been able to live a rich, full, adventurous life.
That eventually led me to a tiny thatched cottage in West Waterford, Ireland—which was certainly warm and cozy if my wonderful Jotul wood stove was going—but which was otherwise freezing since it been built from the crudest local materials, had no insulation, and let in the wind if it blew from the wrong direction (and Ireland is not renowned for its balmy heat at the best of times). Nonetheless, I loved the place and the area—and wrote most of my first book, GAMES OF THE HANGMAN, while living there.
It was also a singularly romantic environment—a fact I put to good use.
Besotted though I was with the cottage—it broke my heart when I had to leave—I was not blind to the place’s faults; and gave considerable thought to the kind of dwelling I’d like to live in if starting from scratch.
The French Pop-Up House is a candidate. This is what the www.Gizmag.com piece says about it.
French architectural firm Multipod Studio recently unveiled a new sustainable house prototype that's lightweight, recyclable, and promises to be an inexpensive purchase and extremely efficient to run. The suitably-named Pop-Up House also boasts another notable selling-point: all that's required to assemble it is four day's patience and a standard electric screwdriver.
Pop-Up House measures a total of 150 sq m (1,614 sq ft), and the interior features a large combined open space that contains kitchen, dining and living room areas. Elsewhere in the home are two bathrooms, a master bedroom, two additional bedrooms, an office, and a terrace.
The structure is simple to build and comprises a spruce wood frame, laminate veneer wooden floor, and expanded polystyrene insulation blocks, and everything is held together using wood screws. Indeed, Multipod Studio states that no prior construction experience is necessary for assembly, likening the process to building with Lego.
Thanks to Pop-Up House's excellent insulation and airtight thermal envelope, no heating is necessary for the home, or at least, not while it is located in the generally balmy South of France. However, since it meets the very exacting Passivhaus energy standard, Pop-Up House is certain to be very efficient to heat, even in chillier climes.
At present, Pop-Up House is still in the prototype stage, so finer details on the home are lacking. A preliminary price is available though, and the home will set you back €30,000 (roughly US$41,000), which includes labor, but doesn't include finishing touches like waterproofing, electricity, and plumbing.
Can they really make that price? Exciting if they can. Frankly, it’s about time more was done to:
- Bring house prices down.
- Dramatically improve energy efficiency.
- Eliminate homelessness.
Currently, property is a key component of the financialization that has taken such a grip on this economy—with lamentable results.
There has to be a better way.
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