I was attracted by the illustrations of the Welsh House of the Future designed by Jestico + Whiles (aj 15.7.99), so I looked at the plan in detail.
My conclusion was that as a concept house for a family with up to five bedrooms (say, six inhabitants) - well, such a house would be a nightmare. I say this with the experience of being a father who has been through the family-life cycle with four children.
Just apply this set of questions:
Where do I cook a meal for six while listening to the radio; while my wife watches the tv; while my son practises guitar; while my daughter revises for her gcse exams?
And what about when my other daughter takes a shower for an hour before a date; while my mother listens to her talking book; while the dog scratches his fleas?
The answer appears to be - all in the same space. The rooms in this house - except the bike store (where I shall sleep) and the dustbin store (where I shall have my home 'work pattern' office) - are only separated by one door from all the other spaces. Those doors risk being hollow-core for cost reasons. They are therefore totally ineffective except for visual privacy.
My energy charges may be lower, but the bill from my family therapist will be enormous. By the way, has the designer of the kitchen unit ever boiled an egg? Not even those unmentionable joinery firms would provide such a daft layout.
As architects, we have to do better than this if we are to provide a viable alternative to our lost clients, who will continue to put their money into the builder's spec house with all its common features.
Tim Drewitt, Tunbridge Wells