Unhelpful evolution

unhelpfull_evolution_Louise_Downe_2012We’re getting bigger, but our houses are getting smaller. The fact that you rarely hear these two things mentioned together says a lot about our approach to city planning.

In a bid to house New York’s growing number of single occupant and ‘pre family’ households, Mayor Bloomberg recently commissioned a competition to design a new micro apartment measuring 26×28 square meters.

That don’t seem so bad to me, but then I’m 5.2″, roughly the same height as an average Chinese woman. The average American woman is 2.5 inches taller, and American men another 5 inches taller still.

Height doesn’t just determine the amount of ceiling space we need, or the amount of space we need for a bed or wardrobe that’s large enough. It determines the amount of power we need, both in calories and in cooking and cleaning for ourselves.

Will we one day see a person’s attractiveness linked to their environmental efficiency? Will we start to shrink, as the amount of space in our cities, protein for us to eat and energy for us to burn shrinks too?