Oh God. Thatched houses.
We lived in one of those once. Things live in that thatch. There’s a whole ecosystem up there. Things with little feet. Things with lots of legs. Things you can hear rustling around at night, when everything’s dead quiet.
Oh, you may get used to it eventually. …Or not. It doesn’t matter. The Things will still be there. Just so you know…
(And now I’m remembering the rat on the top of the refrigerator: the one Peter shot with his air pistol when he was cleaning it. [The air pistol, not the rat.] That came down into the kitchen from the thatch. Didn’t do it ever again, though…)
That rat story O.o
These homes are GORGEOUS, but, yeah, especially with the last one I just kept thinking: moisture retention, mold/microbial growth, plant life, associated insect and animal life, rot/deterioration… especially in the climates/environments shown in the photos. Nope.
I have always loved the idea of living in a old structure, whether that’s a tiny cottage in the country, a big old Victorian with lots of gingerbread, or a lovely little rowhome in the city. However, I’ve gradually backed away from making an old home a goal I actively work toward. Lots of reasons: general age and deterioration lead to ever-increasing maintenance or renovation costs, spotty information on prior tenants/owners and their use and upkeep of the property, unreported (and therefore unknown) losses or damage (fire and water particularly). Most of the time, old or existing damage is not covered by standard homeowners insurance, which has the potential to leave the homeowner with -easily- tens of thousands of dollars in repairs.
And those homes that claim to have been “completely renovated” on the inside? Often it’s just a cosmetic update: new drywall walls, new kitchen and bathroom cabinets & fixtures, with the same old plumbing/heating systems still in place.
TL;DR: it has the potential to cost a lot of money to live in an older home. If this is something you want to dedicate a significant portion of your budget to, then know this ahead of time and plan ahead for it (which, honestly, is good advice for *any* home purchase, old or new), and go for it.
Personally, I’m not sure I am or ever will be ready to make the kind of commitment necessary to own a home (I’m still driven by too strong of a wanderlust), and if/when I do, I do not anticipate buying a much older home. The true condition of privately owned infrastructure is often hard to grok. It’s very easy to make the exterior and interior surfaces of a structure look really appealing and solid, but it’s the underlying quirks and issues that have the potential to cause real problems.
Final note: none of this is to be overly negative about owning an older home. I lived in an older home with cosmetic improvements: new drywall and carpet, nice cabinets, etc. But the floor wasn’t quite level in the kitchen, there was no exhaust fan in the bathroom, the living room was clearly a slapped-together addition with really poor ventilation - it was, by turns, an adventure. But I rented rather than owned, and it just happened to be that we were planning to move when I discovered a persistent moisture issue behind the paneling in the living room (which backed up to the shower enclosure in the bathroom). Had I been the property owner, that moisture issue could have been a bank-breaker. As it was, we moved and the property management company cleaned the place up (certainly not addressing the problem) and brought new tenants in, who may or may not ever notice the issue (paneling is a great concealer).
So, yes: old homes still using ancient methods of construction/insulation? Think and rethink before diving in.
Copenhagen Redesigns City for Stormwater Management (and then some)
A month before I arrived in Copenhagen in the summer of 2011, I watched news footage of the worst flood the city had seen since at least 1955 (when systematic flood measurements began). It cost the city over $1 billion USD.
The same year, Copenhagen failed to earn the European Green Capital award despite pristine performance across the board of sustainability indicators except one; public green space.
Copenhagen is now rolling out a new plan to address its challenges of both stormwater management and insufficient green space.
Note: Darth Vader on a Segway in the last image. Well played, municipal architects.
Heat to the Rescue: Sturdy Oil Drum Survival Kit Also Converts Into Stove.
Like the Haitian earthquake of 2010, last year’s Japanese tsunami disaster spurred designers to re-think what an effective, life-saving response might look like.
Focusing on providing a source of heat, water and food housed in rollable oil drum that can be converted into a stove, Eindhoven-based Japanese designer Hikaru Imamura’s “Heat Rescue Disaster Recovery” kit reflects his belief that something as simple as heat and hot water may mean the difference between falling deathly ill or surviving.
Design work scaled for real people.
I love this.
you might find this interesting: we’ve recently released a project about the limited accessibility of public transport (subway + commuter trains) in New York, London and Hamburg. The results are maps with an interactive slider that let you explore how thinned out the transportation network get’s when you’re handicapped e.g.
here’s a mapgif-preview:
and here all the information about the project http://mappable.info/blog/2014/2/8/accessibility
Transit Maps says:
The depiction of physical accessibility on transit maps of is something I’ve touched on before — see this great 2007 map of the London Underground with all the inaccessible stations removed (Nov. 2011, 5 stars) — but this is a fantastic and intuitive way to show the difference between all stations and only the accessible ones.
You should definitely click through to the full blog entry about this project and see the full interactive maps that have been created for New York, Hamburg and London. If you’ve been inspired, they also give ideas and instructions on how to create a similar map for the transit in your city.
Pursuant to my prior post/commentary.
This is a photo of the Star of Shetland, taken September 19, 1936 on its way to Osaka, Japan to be scrapped. In the background you can see construction being done on the Golden Gate Bridge.
This photo and many others like it, as well as a wealth of information about the period of 1870-1920 during which sailing ships went from dominant to obsolete, can be found in the Dyal Ship Collection.
A "sneckdown" ( combination of “snow” and “neckdown” - another name for a curb expansion) uses snow formations on the street to reveal the space cars don’t use. Advocates can then use these sneckdown photos to make the case to local transportation officials that traffic calming interventions like curb bumpouts and traffic islands can be installed without any loss to car drivers.
I’m not sure how I feel about this but it has really got me thinking
I don’t with this. Sure, having light rail - or whatever else counts as “permanent” public transport - isn’t relying on the same-ole internal combustion engine and 4 rubber tires, buuuuuut….
Transit-oriented development is wonderful only where existing development and land use haven’t already established population/living/working patterns.
What I mean is this: I would love-love-love to live in a TOD community centered around a rail stop, where I could walk to the train station from my front door to commute to work and/or run errands, etc. HOWEVER, in my region, homes like that are EXPENSIVE and not always easy to come by because of demand. I’m fortunate to own a vehicle and can drive the 4-ish miles to the park & ride to catch the train. Parking is free there and the lot is well maintained and safe. Plenty of people don’t own vehicles, or even if they do, may be using a system where they’d have to pay for parking or park in a less than ideal location. So, they make use of the buses to bridge the gap between light rail and existing development patterns/neighborhoods.
THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS except the stigma of “riding the bus.” Buses are legitimate, versatile and accessible in ways rail travel is not, and supportive of CURRENT, EXISTING development patterns rather than reliant on some hypothetical wonderland where everything is based on transit-oriented walkable hamlets.
Land use in the US is markedly different than that in Europe, which is what “not relying on buses” basically requires in order to work. Good or bad, IMO we’re in a position now where - in order to do the most good vis a vis encouraging reduction of personal vehicle use - we have to adapt our mass transit modes/approaches to accommodate our land use patterns, NOT the other way around.