I wasn’t familiar with the Slow Home concept until this week, after I received a e-mail from a Slow Home devotee who found us during a search for condo floor plans. The idea, promoted by a couple of architects affiliated with the University of Calgary, starts with the notion that a majority of home designs are “standardized, homogenous, and wasteful,” kind of like your typical fast-food meal. A slow home, by contrast, “is simple to live in and light on the environment” and “has been designed to benefit the lives of the people who reside in it.”
For the past nine months, the two architects, John Brown and Matthew North, and their website’s readers have critiqued thousands of floor plans from nine North American cities using a Slow Home rubric. This week the project turned its focus to Chicago homes, and Brown and North have already posted several videos in which they compare, contrast, and critique floor plans at 235 Van Buren, Lincoln Park 2520, and Ontario Place. The reliance on two-dimensional floor plans alone is a huge limitation, to say the least — obviously they’ve never been to 235, given that they repeatedly call it a “proposed” development and completely misrepresent the nature of the partial-height walls separating its kitchens and bedrooms — and too much time is spent among readers redesigning floor plans that are very much fixed and unalterable at this point, but occasionally you’ll find some interesting observations about livability and the flow of a home.
In today’s video, the duo focuses on the sizes, layouts, and positions of bathrooms in 11 Chicago condos and apartments (the specific development’s aren’t named), and in general like what they see. Common problems they see in our city’s floor plans are poorly located baths (right off a kitchen, or far from major living spaces), baths that are way too big relative to the size of their units, and simply too many baths in the city’s smaller condos.