Move over, Brad. There's a new architect in town.
Brad Pitt is working to make sure the houses in New Orleans are designed to fit in with their surroundings. Architects have drawn up several plans for houses that should be able to survive a hurricane or flood. One architect even proposed a model house that could float. But some architects went beyond this mandate. They talked with the people in the Lower Ninth Ward and created homes tailored to fit their lives, including personalized details such as a front porch where the grandparents could chat with the neighbors.
I suggest taking this one step further. Why don’t we set up houses so that fitness is built in? For example, right now I live in one of those “Amsterdam” style townhouses that are becoming so popular nowadays, at least around Portland. It’s tall and narrow – I mean, we’re talking a 2-bedroom home that’s one room wide and three stories tall. Exercise is built in to the daily routine.
Come home and unload groceries? Why yes, the kitchen is one flight up. Good exercise, especially if I have to make a couple of trips. Or, if I don’t feel like making several trips, I can always do some weight lifting by carrying all the grocery bags in one trip. If I’m working in the garage on the ground floor for several hours, I’ll definitely get a workout –the bathroom is on the 3rd floor. And if I’m rushing out the door and realize at the last minute that I left the car keys in my bedroom, there’s a two-flight sprint built in to my day.
Granted, this style of house wouldn’t work for everyone. But the basic idea of designing houses that would make exercise part of the daily routine might be the wave of the future. You read it here first.
And why stop there? Why not set up televisions that only run when you do? Hook those suckers up to a treadmill. (Also, this would be a good way to justify letting children watch television.) Ellen deGeneres had a whole spin class on her show powering television monitors.
For that matter, set up your computer and work out while blogging! According to HowStuffWorks, "a single 60-calorie chocolate-chip cookie could power a laptop for four hours!"
One reason that obesity rates have risen so much over the past couple of generations is the increase in labor-saving devices. (Yes, there are other factors, I know that. I still think this one is a major factor.) We’re in a good position right now because we can choose which labor-saving devices are worth it and which ones we could jettison in favor of getting more exercise in our life.
How would you design a house so that fitness was an automatic part of your life?
I bet Brad is miffed he didn't think of it first.
If you want to contribute to the foundation that's trying to organize the New Orleans rebuilding project, you can find more information at makeitrightnola.org