Our attitude to cars is changing – indeed the technology of motor vehicles is about to go through the most rapid and fundamental shift since Gottlieb Daimler patented the four-stroke internal combustion engine. The time to revaluate our relationship with the car and its place in our homes is now overdue. This blog suggests a second new way we can accommodate cars in our homes.
The Domesticated Car
Garages are a legacy of male-gendered residential spaces. We can trace the origins of the suburban private garage to the mews stables where the wealthy housed their horses and coachmen (often in that order of priority) at the back of their town houses. The mews model instigated a lineage that has treated garages as an ‘outhouse’ workspace. A place for dirty engines dripping oil and polluted by exhaust fumes. The garage is a space that has almost universally become a male domain, along with the garden shed – a place for men to escape domestic life and reinforcing male role stereotypes.
But this legacy is becoming as out of touch with changing motor vehicle technology as it is with modern family life. What happens when a car becomes a consumer electronics device made by Google or Apple?
Idea: A Car Hall
The changing nature of the family car from a noisy, polluting machine to a silent, emission-free piece of high technology surely suggests a revaluation of its place in our homes. Will cars still need to be consigned to an unheated, unfished outhouse? What’s to stop us bringing a car into our home just as we do a bicycle or a baby buggy? What’s to stop the space taken by a family car becoming a place for children to play or adults to exercise when the car is away?
Replacing the conventional up-and-over garage door with bi-fold windows and finishing the floor with tile or stone paviours instead of rough concrete, and the car can be parked in an enlarged version of our hall, which in turn becomes a far more flexible, adaptable space for all the family – part winter garden, part play-room.
Cars are not likely to go away – no matter how hard some designers might wish. But cars are changing and the way we design our homes can change too. There will no doubt be many other ways we can rethink how we accommodate cars and I would welcome others sharing their ideas
Marcus is an award-winning, international architect and town planner, specialising in creating liveable neighbourhoods and with over 30 years’ experience in a range of building and planning projects. As a leading figure in the UK’s urban design movement, Marcus has been at the forefront of changing the way we plan and build towns and cities. His work with local communities has resulted in places that work for the people that live there, making them more popular, safer and well cared for.
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