Monday, 5 September 2011

Is customer led housing design ending family life?

I'm not an expert in housing, I'm an expert in career planning and coaching but that does not stop me having thoughts and opinions. Doesn't stop me from worrying or wanting to sound off. So sorry if my facts are wrong.. happy to be corrected but here are some of those thoughts.
The other night the three members of my family were all sat in separate rooms on separate computers. Family life eh? Well it's easy. We don't argue, we don't relate, we don't have tension or communication or affection or all the roller coaster that the phrase 'family life' implies.
As i write there is a TV programme about how little time parents spend with children, how families don't eat together and children don't learn how to eat. And we are not a workless family on a sink estate.
So thinking of this sceanrio I was reminded of a comment said to a friend who went to look at a new build house. She commented that the living room was rather small for a four bed house. Ah said the sales person, people don't want big lounges cos they don't sit in them as a family anymore, the kids are all in their bedrooms [on their computers, TVs etc] So the customer wants space in the bedrooms not in communal areas. So customer feedback had led to shifts in design of the homes we are going to live in.
Those of you that re familiar witrh the history of social housing and town planning ; or who saw the excellent BBC documentary on the hsitory of social housing will know that in an earlier age planners and architects had no qualms about engineering the size and shape of properties to produce certain social outcomes. The invention of the kitchen diner (rather than small scullery)  was to get families to be together.
So the philosophy of meeting customer needs has surplanted the 'we know best' of the authorities. But has this been at a cost?
I worry that my family find it hard to play together, sit together, watch together (we do eat together and we have lots of vigorous debates.. last night it was on membership of the EU a good or bad thing.. and the boy is only 14!) But if we can't live as a community than what hope is there for wider social cohesion and community? Bedrooms with braodband may be what our customers want but maybe the consequences will not be ones that society as a whole needs?
All of this has nothing to do with my expertise but I can't blog about how to do a good interview or how to write your Cv all the time.. i'd be bored too! Visit my website, blog and twitter for more of all those things!

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