1.2.11

Stuffed with stuff

Man, those January sales are tough. 50% off, 70% off. It's so tempting to buy more stuff! Whenever I feel overwhelmed with that message to buy, I try to recall this video: 



It ties in well with a book I just finished reading called, "Cities for People" by Jan Gehl. Jan is a well respected architect in Copenhagen who was largely responsible for Copenhagen's pedestrianization and bike lanes. It was an okay book, the ideas were largely nice but unchallenging but it read like it was made from Powerpoint presentations. One part I thought was interesting was the change of time of residential areas. Overall, "new residential areas are sparsely populated. A century ago, seven times more people lived in the same amount of space." And here is a very interesting chart he had:



1900
Old areas
2000
New city areas
(high density)
2000
New city areas
(low density)
2000
New city areas
(suburban)
Average size of household4 people1.822.2
average dwelling area per resident m2/sq.ft10/11060/65060/65060/650
floor to plot ratio200%200%25%20%
number of dwellings per hectare475155218
number of residents per hectare2,000 persons2804217

Isn't that amazing to see how much more space we need now. I am certainly not suggesting we return to super crowded old city life but do we really need so much space now? We have smaller families but we need bigger houses? And what is that space for? For stuff!
In the US, according to the National Association of Homebuilders, "the average American house went from 1,660 square feet in 1973 to 2,400 square feet in 2004." And the fastest growing part of the building industry was self-storage units. Apparently, one in 11 American households rents a storage unit.
Oliver James in Affluenza has argued that all this stuff is making us very unhappy and we've had great posts with some wonderful suggestions to manage all that stuff. So, now that it is February hopefully those sales will have eased off and the temptation of stuff will subside! 
All the best,
Jude

3 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for a great post Jude.

Karen said...

My husband is a builder, has been for 35 years, and we have self-storage facilities. I can tell you I am always amazed at what people are willing to spend to store extra "stuff". Sometimes, when people empty out a unit, I see what they've been spending $100. a month to store is really just junk that they end up throwing out anyway. Crazy! But right now since the building business is practically defunct it's what's putting food on our table.

julochka said...

i KNOW jan gehl! he spoke at the memorial symposium for my father-in-law and was a good friend of my father-in-law. he gave a really interesting talk about cities and railed against the cold modernism of mies van de rohe et al. he had a lot to say about ørestad, the new "town" near the airport in copenhagen - where DR byen is and such. and about how lifeless the space is. i had a long talk with him afterwards about the livability of cities like Singapore and Shanghai. i've not read anything of his tho'.

as for the temptation of stuff....i think it's really difficult because we've been programmed our entire lives to consume. i definitely struggle with it. and you're right, this video helps. i hadn't seen it in awhile.