THE ROARING 2020s

In the next years, a new kind of Toronto will be emerging and it won’t be the one Walter Gropius nor the Bauhaus movement envisioned in the 1920s: they forecast condos as “machines for living”.

They missed the key.

They thought the architectural form would be the deciding factor.

They couldn’t possibly have imagined the tsunami of digitization that would sweep away all their 19th century conventions and truly create their imagined “machines for living”: that was still nearly a century away.

And that is the key: it is the digitization of the home that will matter, that will truly make the SmartCondo a machine for living and a better place to live.

In 2020 and beyond, you’ll see the SmartCondos of Toronto, both new and existing, being digitized to an unprecedented degree as both new construction and retrofitting embrace this “new normal.”

We already know that a condominium, with only a single exterior wall, is the most energy efficient way for anyone to live, whether they live in a penthouse or a pied a terre.

We already know that living in urban environments is the most effective way to curb greenhouse gas emissions, ensure the vitality of city cores and maximize the efficiency of a city.

But the future will bring us truly smart housing: SmartCondos that regulate their internal temperature based on info sent to them by their owners’ GPS smartphones, adjusting the temperature in the morning to lowest (or highest)acceptable safe levels, turning it back up or down when the smartphone tells the SmartCondo that the owner is within 5 or 10 blocks from home.

SmartCondo swill turn the electricity off to all but the key appliances that need constant power (the refrigerator, for example) when the owner is away, and turn it back on when the owner is close to home. New devices will be created with integral rechargeable back-up batteries so that, when the power goes off, clocks and other memory elements (on PVRs, for example) will stay on. The power grid will benefit as tens of thousands of devices will no longer draw current during the day when businesses need power, and will only draw it after hours, when the grid is less stressed.

When no one is home, the SmartCondo will go into sleep mode.

When someone is coming home, it will wake up.

As solar energy increases in efficiency, SmartCondos will generate some of their own power on sunny days, not just from rooftop arrays of solar cells, but from virtually transparent solar cells embedded into the glass balcony railings and windows, replacing the tinting that those areas already have.

Advances in organic-based battery storage may also make it possible to store excess energy from sunny days in batteries that occupy the volume of 3 or 4 underground parking spaces, which will become available as fewer and fewer downtown dwellers will own cars, opting instead for shared vehicles that are available for their use when they need them.

Apart from societal advantages in relieving the stress on the energy grid, generating its own power will help the SmartCondo keep maintenance fees down, especially in older buildings where maintenance fees tend to cover utility costs.

Your smartphone will power up your SmartCondo and heat it or cool it to your preferred level when you are within 5 or 10 blocks of home, will open the lobby door for you, will tell the elevator which floor to take you to, will unlock your suite door when you are within a metre of it and turn on all the power in the suite, and, in general, will help your SmartCondo smooth your life, generate its own power, save you money, decrease the load on the existing infrastructure and make your life a better experience.

That’s what my 10,000 hours tell me.