Bigger, smarter, lighter: What your home will look like in 2016

Open plan living space is perpetually popular, as in this London house by VPPR Architects. The trend

Open plan living space is perpetually popular, as in this London house by VPPR Architects. The trend is predicted to spread even further in 2016 - Credit: Archant

RIBA (the Royal Institute of British Architects) asked architects’ practices participating in its Future Housing Design Trends survey for their predictions of where our homes are headed

White on White, Gianni Botsford Architects

White on White, Gianni Botsford Architects - Credit: Archant

Sizing up

Home extensions are getting bigger as the cost of moving to a larger property becomes unaffordable to more and more people. More than half (55 per cent) of respondents to the survey said that house extensions are getting bigger, made possible in part by new planning rules allowing more generous permitted development criteria for domestic additions.

This trend also extends to bespoke houses commissioned by individual clients. Half the architects surveyed found that these are increasing in size, while the average number of storeys in homes is also on the up (encompassing basement extensions as much as height).

Ageing population

Saving energy through tools like solar and pv panels is becoming a mainstream concern for new homes

Saving energy through tools like solar and pv panels is becoming a mainstream concern for new homes and renovations in 2016 - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

It seems that homeowners are finally accepting the inevitability of old age, with all the physical constraints this will entail. The ageing population is increasingly being catered for through new accessible or adaptable home design features, either to enable ageing occupants to stay put in their homes for longer, or to house elderly relatives.

Open plan

Most Read

The social hub of the 21st-century home is now indisputably the open plan cooking/eating/living space, ofte n leading directly onto the garden. While this is nothing new, two thirds of respondents to the survey predicted that demand for this type of spatial configuration would increase in the coming year. Get used to cooking smells permeating your entire downstairs.

Natural light

In line with the demand for large, open spaces comes an increasing demand for natural light in homes, for a bright, airy, free-flowing lifestyle. Lack of natural light is one of the most common causes of dissatisfaction among homeowners so a taste for floor-to-ceiling glazing is unsurprising. Environmental regulations mean that this trend will come with a renewed appetite for triple glazing.

Sustainable living

Sustainability and energy conservation have gone mainstream – and while it may be tempting to attribute this entirely to environmental concerns, the mounting costs of energy bills probably can’t be ignored as a factor. Whatever the reason, most architects said they expect to be asked to use more sustainable materials, recycling and water conservation tools this year, as well as new interest in the use of solar/PV panels, advanced insulation products and Passivhaus techniques. Meanwhile, respondents expect to see a decrease in demand for domestic wind turbines as clients become more discerning about energy efficiency.

Smart home

Smart technologies are becoming the new norm – could we be witnessing the demise of the internet router, light switch and hi-fi? Nearly two thirds (64 per cent) of respondents anticipate increased demand for integrated broadband systems; 44 per cent expect to see an increase in programmable lighting; and 42 per cent an increase in integrated sound and vision installation.

Also hot for 2016

– En suite bathrooms: the move to luxury hotel-style living continues apace. After all, who really wants to share a bathroom with adolescents?

– Home offices: The rise and rise of flexible and home working (or the increasing demands placed on workers) means people increasingly want a designated space for this in their homes. Goodbye box room, hello home cubicle

– Underfloor heating: toasty toes are cool. 68 per cent of architects surveyed expect to be installing more of these in 2016