H0-u-me: bespoke wellbeing habitats using IoT technology

H0-u-me is a ‘design-it-yourself’ housing system which functions as a cooperative. Occupants have access to a housing toolkit or ‘warehouse’ of autonomously functioning physical components (‘blocks’) and user-sensitive digital installations which make use of Internet of Things (IoT) technology, allowing them to customize and create their own homes wherever they desire. Physical units comprise of prefabricated, laser-cut hempcrete panels and steel columns, which can be used to form rooms, sheds, patios or other living spaces and finally assembled to form a home, wherever the user wishes. A single H0-u-me house can be taken apart into its constituent components, and each component is able to function autonomously, allowing the user to enjoy a tremendous degree of customizability in living options. Inhabitants of a H0-u-me have the flexibility to choose from assembling a home from scratch or to select a mix of digital and physical components and retrofitting these into existing dwellings or buildings.

H0-u-me works on a subscription basis. At the point of application, a profile of the prospective inhabitant is taken to determine her/his physical, emotional, and social requirements and desires, or ‘happiness factors’. These are used to tailor-make a digital environment that responds to these user needs, as well as to formulate recommendations for the home’s physical design. For example, elderly occupants may not only need seamless access but may also have a preference for a nostalgic environment, which can be offered through a digital soundscape. Using IoT technology, H0-u-mes then collect and analyze data from inhabitants throughout their residence and, incorporating research on human happiness available on the public domain, responds to users’ needs.

For a fixed weekly membership payment, users may obtain as many units as required from their local H0-u-me warehouse and assemble their own living units according to their preferences. The habitant enjoys autonomy in many aspects in shaping the spatial aspects of the living unit, while also being able to contribute to the life of the house by simply inhabiting it. This includes powering the house through kinetic energy generated through domestic activities, reducing costs and increasing affordability.

H0-u-me is much more than a physical design; it’s also a creative business model that allows users to be involved in shaping a housing system that maximizes human happiness, all around the world. Functioning on a cooperative business model means huge cost savings from economies of scale, enabling H0-u-mes to be more affordable, to more people. It’s very much like a larger-than-life, real-time game of Sims with a socially-focused, community-driven touch!

How H0-u-me came about

What makes us happy? To conceptualize ‘The Happy Home’, it is imperative to question what it is that truly makes us happy. I strongly believe that the determinants of a home’s ‘happiness value’ extend beyond what is physically present, but also encompasses its ability to engage with, and enrich, the human psyche. With that in mind, I conducted a little investigation. First, I looked inwards and made a list of things that made me happy. I then asked those around me and people on the internet what makes them happy. I could classify these into broad categories. Finally, I incorporated various theories on human happiness and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to map out a universal happiness matrix.

As it turns out,
1. People are happy for vastly different reasons.
2. But these reasons vary within several fairly universal factors for happiness.
3. And therefore: there is no one-size-fits-all solution for a happy home BUT we can determine domains in which these factors are allowed to vary, and thus ‘tailor-make’ habitats according to the user’s unique ‘happiness factors’.

It may seem that these ‘happiness’ factors are not evidently architecturally related. But if we consider that human beings spend almost all their lives in buildings, and out of this, generally spend most of their time in their homes, surely it must be important to consider these factors too?

And so, the idea of H0-u-me was born. The name is a play on the word ‘homie’, a slang for ‘friend’, and a portmanteau of ‘house’ and ‘home’, (because it’s about time to put the ‘u’ and ‘me’ back into homes!). Making use of IoT technology, a H0u-me, much like a friend, develops sensitivity to its inhabitants’ unique physical, emotional, and social needs, and adapts to them.

The project buildingsblocks

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