Urban cottages - rural homes? Challenges towards a more sustainable residental culture and the role of architecture

Eli Střa


The growth in the number, size and standard of
second homes in Norway as well as in other
European countries has negative environmental
impacts and has thus become an issue within
the sustainability debate. The article argues that
the growth in second homes must be seen as
part of changes within residential cultures in
our time and that understandings of these
changes are essential in order to reach a more
sustainable development within the residential
sector. It aims to provide a better basis for further
explorations into the field of connections
between understandings of home, architecture
and environmental issues.
The article draws on an outline of theoretical
approaches to residential cultures and of
second homes research, as well as on architectural
analysis of two contemporary projects, one
second home and one urban housing project.
The discussions show that the relationship between
diverse home arenas is complex and that
there probably is a need to reconsider the theory
that second homes represent an escape from
urban everyday life. Concepts like rural and
urban are blurred, privacy and withdrawal may
be just as essential in urban residential settings
as in second homes and community life seems
just as relevant in vacation home settings as in
urban neighborhoods. The role of architecture
within the overall discussion of how to reach a
more sustainable residential culture is thus a
matter characterized by several contradictions
that need to be further explored.

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