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article imageOp-Ed: Home sweet clicks? Not really, Hemnet Home is grim indeed

By Paul Wallis     Jul 10, 2015 in Entertainment
Stockholm - The new thing in Sweden is a house designed entirely statistically on an analysis of features clicked on an architecture site. It’s called the Hemnet Home, or House of Clicks. It’s also a great proof of reasons not to design by groupthink.
The Hemnet Home is the result of an analysis of 200 million clicks by 86,000 users on Hemnet, Sweden’s most popular property site. It’s also a statistically derived fantasy. The analysis used a range of existing features, and then put them together to create the “most desirable” home, based on those features.
The Hemnet Home is dull. It’s unspeakably barren. It looks like a young child’s version of a house. In fairness — the architects, a company called Tham and Videgard, don’t usually design their homes like this, looking at their site.
The problem is the hybridization of features out of context with the other designs. The Hemnet Home is an open plan design, which is a common feature of modern architecture. Open plan design, however, is also based on a range of specific architectural contexts, from site to sunlight and other features.
The rest of the home is pretty grim by any standards. There’s a bathroom with no windows but an overhead sunroof. The bedroom looks credible in terms of coming from any other design but this one. There’s an upstairs porch which looks at a remove from the rest of the home, like an afterthought.
Everything is painted white or off white. It’s hideous overall, bland, and only the amount of space saves it from looking like a truly banal attempt at a blank zone. This is modernism in a coma. The shipping container-like exterior is no great plus, either. If it was smaller, the Hemnet Home would be really horrendous.
Maybe this “home” is the product of a sort of collective unconscious of property buyers — an awareness of some things, mixed with a lack of originality in thinking. There’s no more personal taste involved in this thing than a grocery aisle. Individual features, despite my obvious loathing, aren’t so much bad as simply onsite looking bad rather than being bad. It’s the combination which reeks of stale ideas.
Another issue is the price of building — $400K or so to build this thing. No. Maybe it’s median for the housing market in Sweden, maybe not, but if you built the Hemnet Home out of steel frames and basic materials, you’re looking at much less. That’s one of the few redeeming features of this place; there are no fussy, complex bits in terms of building. Should be able to do it and sell it for about $100K.
Culturally, the Hemnet Home is a strange beast. Sweden is home to actual Viking and Viking-influenced homes. These homes were masterpieces of timberwork, A frames, and of course the famous longhouses. I found a few images online which don’t really do them justice, but compare the Hemnet Home to the Viking ideas. It’s the difference between a virile culture and a clickfest on shopping list features. IKEA couldn’t be accused of this level of lifelessness.
Let’s hope the Swedes go back to their Viking roots, not back to their modernist all-click, no-think statistical analyses.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Hemnet Home, Tham and Videgard, statistical analysis, viking houses, Ikea
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