My Ideal ‘Community House’


perfect house
Architecture and building design are wildly beyond my expertise, but occasionally I have fun thinking about The Perfect House. In my case it would be a communal space, shared by an entire intentional community of 30-50 people. It would have the following attributes:

  • On the basis that it would likely be located in a less-than-ideal climate, it would be built into the side of a hill in such a way that more than half of it would be underground, to minimize energy requirements and to allow the entire roof to be used as an organic garden and for solar/wind energy generation, and geothermal energy sources would also be accessible.
  • It would have a huge southern window exposure, two stories high, to provide natural light, heat, and natural scenery. The windows would have to be polarized or otherwise designed to prevent birds flying into them accidentally. 
  • As a result, the house would be invisible from the road/driveway, completely blended into the surrounding wild space, to minimize disruption to the natural ecosystem of the area.
  • Instead than lawn, local native pasture species would be planted, so other than the garden, no maintenance of the property would be needed. There would be walk-outs to the natural pasture area from the south side of both levels of the house.
  • Entrance to the house (both levels) would be via the underground parking area for human-powered and renewable-powered vehicles.on the east side. The parking area would also include the washrooms, communal baths/hot tub and laundry area.
  • The lower level of the house would consist of one Great Room to be used for all social activities of the community. It would be reconfigurable for meetings, recreation, dining and adult sleeping. The entire floor would be cushioned sufficient for sleeping and comfortable sitting (with a washable surface), and with a sunken area for those not comfortable sitting without their legs and feet below the rest of their body. Several movable and combinable tables would be available, and could be folded away when not needed. The outside of this level, except for the south window wall, would consist of easily-accessible walk-through storage for all community members’ stuff. Floor-to-ceiling cupboards in front of this storage area (with back pass-through from the storage area) would contain built-in appliances, food storage, entertainment appliances, recreation and sleeping supplies (futons) and areas to display arts and crafts. The furnace/air-conditioner/stove might be integrated with the table above the sunken area, as the central dining/meeting/social hub of the community, Japanese kotatsu-style. 
  • The upper level of the house would consist of two large, configurable rooms, also with large southern window exposure. The first would be a quiet room, used during the day for meditation, reading, private work etc. and at night as sleeping quarters for children. The second would be a concentration space, used for small-group work, small-group conversations and other ‘break-off’ activities. 

Simple, natural, low-maintenance, responsible, adaptable. As long as you’re not hung up on privacy (I only want privacy from people I don’t love), I think it’s perfect.

What would your ideal community house look like?

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7 Responses to My Ideal ‘Community House’

  1. Pearl says:

    Yep, mine would look exactly like that, right down to the fold away cushioned floor.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hey –Dave, consider decidious trees in front of the big windows… it might slightly decrease the winter sun, but it would effectively provide shade in the summer months. :-)Janene

  3. Hmmm…mine would look like that, only I’d have my own room. That whole Virginia Woolf thing. I guess I’m not highly evolved enough yet…

  4. Theresa says:

    I love reading blogs about topics wildly behond the author’s expertise. It means they are not forced to remember what doesn’t work. That building sounds fantastic, especially the combinable tables – the surest way to get a dollar out of me is to offer a combinable piece of furniture. About your question: recently I’ve been drawing pictures in my mind about a big shell house made of solar panals or something… a couple of little unit houses inside like community room, private room, semi-outdoor kitchen under the solar panaled greenhouse shell. I don’t really have a clue how it would work but it is fun to think about.

  5. Mariella says:

    Hmmmm… talkin about design… : Hundertwasser´s architectonic natural concepts and philosophy may give your so symetric designing concepts, something to play with….(Ha ha, a little joke).I wasn´t able to find the pictures of his houses under and inside the hills. Really interesting and playfull. http://www.temakel.com/gahwee.htm, http://www.temakel.com/gahwii.htm, http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/38/Waldspirale_Hundertwasser.jpg

  6. PaulSweeney says:

    Well, would you believe I and my partner are just trying to close a bid on an old overgrown quarry site,where our design has strong elements of what you are talking about here. But all your underlying logic exactly mirrors our own. If I can get the plans uploaded I will post them on to you.

  7. Dave Pollard says:

    Thanks everyone. I think these kind of exercises are a lot more fun than most of the prescribed games out there.

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