Do people need unique houses? I saw this question posed over at City Comforts Blog. Well, the natural and first reaction to that question is duh! People are hell bent upon literally carving their own niche when it comes to building their home. Or at least most of them start out that way. Historically building design much less home design has hardly changed and most of the innovations have been made in structural design – something that you hardly or never see and material quality; something that you may see all the time. But take a step back and you will understand why the basic concept of a dwelling hasn’t changed much. Four walls, a roof, and a floor – are the basic essentials that have sufficed for different people and different culture. Of course, somewhere along the way a Frank Lloyd Wright or a Frank O’ Gehry (what’s with the name Frank?) comes along and causes a paradigm shift. But most of their clients are rich and often like their designs because they have something to show off to.
Coming back to our question, do people really need unique houses that stand out from their surroundings? Probably some do; but for most it is merely a comfortable state of living. Either the fancy dreams of utopian living are limited by site availability (not everyone gets a Falling Water site) or financial restraints (that cantilever may look fancy but nosiree, not for your wallet). The ones who can afford to splurge often have fancy homes and then end up closing off any views to their home from public eye citing privacy concerns. Architectural Digest comes out every month with pages of outstanding homes with great technological features, comfort amenities, or distinguishing features but at the core, they still are the same. It is much like modern art; many people love to look at it in a gallery but they wouldn’t put it up in their homes. They rather prefer the traditional landscape image or floral pictures. Take a long around you at the many housing projects popping all over Mumbai’s landscapes. If the market determines the consumer’s preferences, you see little difference in the housing sold over the last 25 years.
Finally, I do agree with the conclusion over at the referring blog i.e. most people settle for generic homes but a little uniqueness goes a long way to make them feel different.