August 13, 2009
I like looking out of windows. I like opening them to let in the fresh air. But windows are also a big bother. I need to close them when it rains, or when it is too hot or too cold, which is most of the time, or when the neighbors are noisy, which is all of the time. Windows get dirty. They cause glare on my computer screen. And if you have nearby neighbors, you end up keeping the shades down all the time anyway. And you might worry about bad people crawling in your windows.
Now suppose you had an underground house. This house isn’t too far underground – just enough to get the benefits of insulation and never having to paint the outside walls. And instead of windows, imagine that the cost of flat screen TVs keeps dropping, so you can have a vivid video of, for example, the ocean, on 100-inch screens on as many walls as you like. You could even have the muted sounds of the waves and seagulls.
You could bring in the natural light using light tubes. That would be an improvement over windows that are only on one side of the house.
As for fresh air, a properly built home with low VOC paints and finishes, and a whole house filter, would have much cleaner air than the outdoors. I can imagine the systems of the future being outfitted with artificial scents to correspond to the views on the TV walls.
Obviously if you have a home with a great natural view, you prefer your home to be above ground, even if it costs more. But most people don’t have a great view. You might be looking at the side of your neighbor’s house, or the street. For you, TV views and filtered air could be a big improvement. At least until your house catches on fire and you try to escape through the TV.