Jotting 2

Australians didn’t always subscribe wholeheartedly to Single Storey design, because our colonial forefathers brought and replicated a building style they were well use to from England and Europe.

It wasn’t until much later that buildings, as did our developing suburbs, take on a viral sprawl of predominantly Single Storey construction, until post war Project Builders honed this trend, taking it to a mindless contagion.

The “Golden Years” of post war building when baby boomers were watching the Mickey Mouse Club on TV, was when much of our prime market garden land fringing around city centres, was squandered for housing.

It was all “GO” then with short sighted “Planning” that caused infra-structure problems for future generations. These were the days when Dual Occupancy wasn’t allowed, and existing home owners fined if they retained their water tanks.

Only when suburban infra structure became so stressed to the eye balls, was Dual Occupancy then permitted, and now guess what –  fines if you don’t have tanks. This sort of  “logic” is remedial where we wait until a problem presents itself before we fix it, rather than plan to avoid it in the first place.

Govt. instrumentalities weren’t the only ones to blame though; the general public was equally responsible for enthusiastically subscribing to squander, because people still had design choices other than whacking up a Single Storey on their quarter acre dream allotment.

Once the Single Storey “trend” became embedded in the public psyche, it became an  “icon” of Australiana that made Australians the greatest wasters of land and building materials in the world (and still are sadly).

What are Planning Authorities doing about it – nothing; if fact in some respects, wasteful housing is ironically encouraged. Australian Planning Departments are’nt much about saving environment;  their policies are thrust to find better ways to plough a service structure through it.

Today most Aussies perpetuate Single Storey building because it’s what they’ve been most exposed to, thus a certain “security” in retaining it, and being the same as one’s neighbours. This desire to be the same has created a sprawling eyesore, that few visitors from overseas would want to film as part of  their holiday record in Oz, yet conversely we fall in love with attractive housing and village settings overseas. The penny just hasn’t dropped here yet.

We have become so entrenched in the least efficient mode of building design (the Single Storey), that we now even defend our right to perpetuate it with ridiculous rationale, vested interest and even lies, which is all pretty crazy considering Single Storey building is the most expensive way per square metre of obtaining a home.

I’ll introduce some of these crazy urban myths next jotting.

Jotting 1

Did you ever ponder as to why Australians are the greatest wasters of land and materials (per capita), in the world, that’s right – IN THE WORLD? Personally I’m not that surprised, but without formerly giving it much thought, I probably would have nominated the U.S. to have won this shameful accolade, but no us Australians are sadly the true gold medal winners.

The outcome is not that hard to understand though. We are very wasteful when it comes to the style of housing we have fallen in love with over decades of mindless suburban sprawl, the biggest culprit being that of the Single Storey home design. I’m not even referring to the growing popularity of bigger homes today, but merely their design.

Single storeys are all slab, roof and wall, thus the maximum spread of any given size of home to live in, resulting in the maximum cost per square of building and land consumption. This ‘spread’ in turn consumes more energy to heat and cool a home, which lessens the value of housing for your dollar.

Let’s look at this syndrome more specifically. The building of a roof is one of the more costly aspects of home construction, yet most Australians unwittingly or otherwise increase their house cost by dismissing the use of roof space as part of their home layout. I’m not referring to Double Storey designs either because these also waste roof space and save nothing on wall area. Double storeys do however save roof and slab cost, as well as land consumption.

If more Australians adopted roof space in their designs (of which 80% could be designed as ‘habitable’), they would be embracing building like countries have been doing overseas for centuries, who consolidate home spread and hence save money, land and reduce energy consumption. Appreciate that you can still have the same living space you desire; you simply build and live in a more ‘Efficient’ way, whereas Australians on the whole live in the least sustainable housing design mode you can choose, which unfortunately also increases suburban infra structure costs.

It’s all pretty crazy and quite ironic that people who subscribe to Single Storey design are perpetuating the most wasteful design mode of housing in the world, yet most likely believe that they are choosing a cheaper and easier way to obtain a family home. Nothing could be further from the truth!

I’ll explain more about how this ‘Australian’ idiosyncrasy has come about in my next jotting.