The Story? Escaping The Rectangle Trap

"Why live in suburbs (the bland subtopias of Ian Nairn), trapped in a suffocating planning-permission system?"

I'd been describing the project to a friend when he said, "yes, I get all that - but what is the story? Everything needs a story" ... and that stopped me. I'd been thinking about the structural challenges, design issues, creating a functional central floor - but these issues didn't get to what it was really about ...

The media promote the project as disaster-proof homes, a solution to low-level flooding and to over-population ... as an off-the-grid solution or as quick, modular-towns. And it could be all of these things - but at its heart it's about creating a new space for people to live in - a space which because it is spherical, allows a completely new way of living: off the ground, off the grid. People are so used to living in cubes and rectangles, plasterboard and brick, that they have stopped thinking about the idea of curves and circles as a living space. Instead they talk about the difficulties of living in circular spaces (as if any of us have ever lived this way). The reaction I often hear is, "oh, compound curves are difficult and expensive, straight lines are sensible and cheap". How do we know? We have only ever tried and lived in the one system.

However, I don't think spherical buildings don't have to be inherently difficult - we just need to approach the issue in a different way, by thinking in terms of circular tension rather than vertical compression. This is a way of building homes which, because of this particular structure, the sphere, are not only super-strong and super-light - but they also offer an off-the-grid mechanism that opens up an independent way of living, away from the restriction of grid-based utilities; off-the-grid homes also potentially open up new areas of the world. So, these spherical houses might address part of the problem of where our extra four billion people might live (global population is forecast to level out at around 11 billion) - and enjoy a very high quality of life at the same time (I don't accept that the solution of cramming billions of people into rectangular skyscrapers, from which they rarely emerge, in enormous industrial on-the-grid cities, is a high-quality-of-life solution).

Curved Space = Off the ground, Off the grid

So the story? Re-examining curved building spaces will enable truly independent living, anywhere: off the ground, and off the grid.

Richard Harries 2016