We’ve all heard of the Slow Food movement, the concept of shifting our approach to food from a focus on speed and convenience, to a focus on quality ingredients, careful preparation and enjoying meals as a family at the dining room table.
Well, over the weekend, I discovered that Calgary is at the centre of a Slow Home Movement. Calgarian John Brown is the founder of Slow Home. He’s a registered architect and Professor of Architecture at the University of Calgary. Brown is also a principal in housebrand, a vertically integrated residential architecture firm based in Calgary, Canada.
Brown reminds us that there was a time when houses were built by hand by the families that would live in them. Today, houses are built for sale. In the eyes of developers the best-designed houses are those that can be built quickly and efficiently with little consideration given to how people will actually live in them.
The Slow Home movement advocates shifting our approach to the building and renovation of homes. The three elements of Slow Home are:
1. Site and materiality, ensuring that the home is constructed in such a way that environmental impact is minimized, and that the materials used are sustainable and friendly to the environment.
2. Design and Make, ensuring the house is well designed for the people who will live in the home. Often home owners feel the need for bigger houses, but perhaps the issue isn’t size, but design.
3. How is it lived in? Organize the space and choose furniture to fit how the home owners will live in the home.
Brown offers seminars on Slow Home, Green Home design and Mid Century Modern design at the housebrand retail store (202 – 2212 4th St. SW) each week. The classes are free to the public and incredibly engaging and informative. In addition to the seminars, Brown also runs a design school on the Slow Home website that’s also free. The design school posts assignments Monday-Friday, and together with Brown (via a video feed) participants work through house floor plans identifying what the problems are and potential solutions, keeping in mind the elements of Slow Home design.