Revolutionary Homes

— A place to relax and enjoy

The patio of a luxury residence, the Sanssouci Palace

While walking around the neighborhood this morning, I wondered why there aren't more courtyards. All the homes are rectangular bricks placed on a plot of land. Anyone can peer into the yards from each direction. There aren't many homes where it's possible to step out in underwear.

It seems healthy to get fresh air. I'd want a house with plenty of windows, good ventilation and a secluded patio where I can enjoy total privacy.

"A villa is a building in the country designed for its' owners enjoyment and relaxation." - James S. Ackerman, The Villa: Form and Ideology of Country Houses

Common sense, right? A home made for enjoyment and relaxation. But this home concept is revolutionary. Traditional farm homes were made for work. And McMansions? They're made to be sold.

"People started designing their houses with the notion of selling them in mind. Realtors would advise, 'oh I wouldn't buy or do this because the house isn't going to sell very well'. So we sort of devised this culture where we thought about selling our houses before we even spent one night in them." - Kate Wagner, blogger of McMansion Hell

Many homes are dark inside, with just a few windows on the front and back. Which property developer would want to create a costlier building with extra walls for a courtyard? And who would be willing to pay extra heating costs? Rather than clustering all the rooms into a rectangular brick, a building with a courtyard requires rooms to have walls that each face out. Longer heating vents means more heat loss.

Access to outdoor air is desired by most, even in a dense city like Taipei. But I prefer something less cooped up.

Having a courtyard could potentially save me from medical costs. As I'm getting older, I'm becoming more sensitive to stagnant indoor air. There's a significant relief I get from being outdoors.

Whether it's heating or medical, if I have to pay either way, I'd rather live in a home I can relax and enjoy.



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