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The Future Is Cave Living

Going medieval: Live like Bess of Hardwick | Lucy Worsley | Comment is free | The Guardian

When the oil runs out, I think our houses will become much more like those of our low-tech, pre-industrial ancestors.
The first point is that the age of specialised rooms is over. Now, legislation governing the design of new houses contains echoes of the past: it insists that once again rooms should multi-task. The living room, for instance, must have space for a bed in case the occupant becomes incapacitated; medieval people, for instance, lived, ate and slept in one room .
Next, architectural features from the past will start to reappear. The chimney disappeared in the 20th century, but it's coming back, as solid fuel-burning stoves make a return. In terms of fuel conservation the sun is becoming important again too: once upon a time people selected sites with good "air"; now well thought-out houses are situated to minimise solar gain in summer and maximise it in winter. Most future houses will need to face south, a challenge to conventional street layout.
The return of the chimney also serves to allow natural ventilation – even where there aren't fireplaces – lifting stale air out of the house. Mechanical air conditioning uses valuable energy, and will soon be simply unaffordable.
Walls are getting thicker too, again like those in the medieval era. Windows will grow smaller again and houses will contain much less glass – not only because of the high energy costs of glass but because it's thermally inefficient.
The return of the shutter is also likely: it's the best way of keeping heat out of a house. And with a hotter climate we'll probably experience water shortages. Our daily water consumption is about 160 litres; the government expects us to get down to 80 – the equivalent of a deep bath – by the end of this decade. We'll eventually need to grow as water-thrifty as the Victorians, with an average use of 20 litres a day. The Victorian cook was also a terrific recycler of food; the earth or "midden" toilet has already been revived in the form of the ecologically sound composting loo.

We lived in a hole in the ground when I were a lad and considered ourselves lucky....

Comments

Never mind that the Victorians used that little water because they never washed or showered, and laundered their clothes by throwing soap flakes into a lake or pond and using that to wash their clothes in rather than using tap water which gets cleaned afterwards :)

When I visited Siberia in the late nineties, I spoke to a young married lad who lived in a soviet era apartment with his wife and child. The apartment was a single room, and their ambition was to raise enough funds to partition it off. They'd already partitioned the loo and the next step was to partition a sleeping area so they could work on baby number two in a bit more privacy. It was a real eye opener as to how the other half lives. Certainly they saw no merit in living in one room.

I'm curious about the supposed legislation requiring a lounge to have space for a bed, sounds like bunkum as it is purely a size thing, assuming the lounge police won't come knocking to check that you've left sufficient space for the emergency insertion of a bed should this become necessary.

There's "legislation governing the design of new houses"? Why?

Ahh, the romance of it all...

Drinking from the stream, eating rotten salted meat, no healthcare to speak of, bleeding to cure most illnesses, cholera, smallpox, infant mortality.

Which one do you fancy, Lucy?

All of which things would be good an proper if done piece-meal, voluntarily, and horrible intrsive and annoying when done via Gov. fiat.

We were looking this morning at how those who go on long distance voyages cope with the logistical problems, e.g. food. It can be done with a bit of forethought.

We will be living in turf huts (or holes in the ground).

Our betters like dear Lucy will be over in the Manor of course.

"Our betters like dear Lucy will be over in the Manor of course."

Well yes, that's why she mentions Bess of Hardwick, who was some sort of rich bitch (perhaps the Siena Miller of her day, or maybe the Polly Toynbee), with unlimited money, unlimited servants, and no restrictions on anything. That is how Lucy intends to be, as one of the political class.

The rest of us can stay in our mud huts with a hole in the middle of the roof to let out the smoke.

No doubt she'll be wondering why we don't eat cake.

Hate them? Me? What makes you think that?

Well, nostalgia aside, she recognises that "Domestic life in the past was smelly, cold, dirty and uncomfortable." But then she puts on blinders and waxes romantic codswollop.

"The chimney disappeared in the 20th century, but it's coming back, as solid fuel-burning stoves make a return."

Oh? Many people over here in the US installed wood stoves a few years back because they were cheap and rather pretty, only to be left out in the cold when anti-pollution laws were passed. The last time England ran out of wood for fuel (Henry - Elizabeth) coal rescued civilisation - but I doubt it will be allowed to do so again. I have heard properly dried dung burns fairly clean... Or perhaps people could use that other popular heat source for single-room homes, domestic stock such as goats and sheep.

Thick walls provided good insulation? Spend a year in a 12th century castle and see if ou still believe that = stone (and brick) is good at holding heat in the Summer and cold in the Winter. OTOH, might be some point to two courses of brick with a six-inch gap: air or vacuum makes fairly good insulation (as does wood, but there is only enough - maybe - to frame, not clad).

"... the earth or "midden" toilet has already been revived in the form of the ecologically sound composting loo." Uh-huh - if you have space - will she establish one in her living room (and put a bed on top)? Or just free-drop out the windowm the way castles did?

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