THE SUBURBS BY WES JONES
For better or worse, the suburbs are what America came up with when presented with the chance to manufacture its ideal geography. Come 2025, people will still live in houses within eyeball distance of their neighbors, but the cyberrevolution and the environmental movement promise to alter the landscape. While computers promote a dramatic trend toward decentralization, allowing people to spread out and live or work anywhere, the green consciousness will urge a contrasting densification, to conserve open space. The reconciliation of these opposing trends will define the suburb of the future. As the vastness of cyberspace increasingly satisfies the craving for more space, the house and yard will shrink to a more supportable size; when people can find their privacy in the virtual world, those wasteful "setbacks" between neighbors will become less important. Cyberspace will, at the same time, become the arena for conspicuous consumption, relieving the home and front lawn of that responsibility. Meanwhile, the physical neighborhood will be freed for parks and other community gestures.
The cyberrevolution will have an effect inside the home as well. It will challenge the cohesiveness of the family as children become self-sufficient citizens of the virtual world. The home will continuously readjust itself to the family's needs. As cyberspace becomes the kind of space that matters, the primitive territorial need for fixed rooms will fade, and the house will be divided among specific activities rather than simply among family members. So much for arguments among the kids over who gets the biggest bedroom.
Wes Jones is the head of Jones, Partners: Architecture, a technology-oriented design firm in Los Angeles
1. Powering Up Homes will tap energy from efficient neighborhood generators, thermal-mass cooling ponds and solar collectors embedded in the streets
2. Energy Source Machinery that runs the house will be powered in part by the homeowner's manual exercise. Pedal away, and watch the dishwasher and lawn mower go!
3. Safety Features Wheelchairs of the future will be able to climb stairs, and guard rails will be replaced with airbags to prevent falls
4. Rooms with a View While houses will have a Miesian simplicity, their windows will become display surfaces, able to show vistas of deserts, jungles or urban skylines
1. Multipurpose Space Instead of individual rooms dedicated to specific activities such as dining or recreation, one large room will be converted as needed, with the help of movable activity pods
2. The Family Room As a counterpoint to the individual appliance zones, the open family room will be a nonvirtual agora for those who crave an old-fashioned encounter with a relative
3. Work, Work, Work Most of our work will be done not in the office but in virtual workstations at home. With a computer screen and interface goggles, you'll be able to work anywhere in the house