We wake up in the morning a bit too late. Alex gets the dogs for a morning walk, while I am left to my own devices, free to ritualize at my own pace. As any new-agey intellectual, I know all about the benefits of a good morning routine. If Tim Feriss does it, it must be good, right? So I start off with a cold shower, which, you will say, does not go well with my personality. Well, it doesn't, but I try nonetheless, and it really perks me up to start the day with something that requires so much willpower. Next up, sports, meditation, journaling, writing, the list could go on until noon! What could I integrate in my home design to accommodate this lengthy (and frankly, mostly imaginary) process of self betterment? Maybe make the uneasy parts a little easier, add new potential to parts that work?
Habits form by triggering. Take a look at Charles Duhigg. He says that the loop of habit formation is: cue, routine, reward. So a sequence of triggers that keep us on track would be a good starting point. Something inviting, than lures us into doing the routine. That would be reinforced by a space that makes the routine as pleasant as possible and finally by a soothing space to get your reward.
If it's morning showers, the trigger is just waking up, so that's easy. You might consider having a well-lit, large shower, with a view to the outside, like an inside garden filled with plants. I know, it sounds dorky and expensive at the same time, but trust me, thinking stuff ahead …
Blessed are the souls who build in the tropics! For they do not know the contradictions we face up North.
Features that will help against the summer heat will hinder the fight against the cold. Obviously. The only help we have is the Sun, gracefully changing angles as the seasons move. In following that change, we can use it and have unmovable features of the house change their use as the Sun moves. A classic: eaves just big enough to let the sun in when it's low in the sky and keep the sun out when it's high.
But there are other things that can't change behavior as easily. Big windows and openings will loose heat in the winter no matter what. West facing windows that are great for wintery afternoons will for sure transform your living room into an oven in August at the same time of day.
A way I can think of to combat this is flexibility. Having elements that you can adapt to the situation. Even better, elements that adapt themselves, depending on smart sensor readings. Shutters that close themselves when it's getting under a certain temperature. Vertical louvers that move with the sun. Like thermostats but better.
We now have the technology to do all of this in the blink of an eye. We can even control air humidity and purity, lights, hot water, and give you all the stats on your phone. I love all of this, even though I see the loss of poetry that we risk in going too far.
I read a while ago a beautiful book called Ritual House and the little magic of houses swaying with the …