Sometimes the answer we seek is right before our eyes. The recent Reply All podcast “Minka” did a great job telling the story of my efforts to create better options for older people. I have done my level best to reform nursing homes through the “Eden Alternative.” I have tried to re-invent nursing homes with the “Green House” model. But up until now I felt I had still failed to answer the simplest and most important question:
“What do people really want?”
What people of all ages and situations want most is to live life on their own terms. To live where and how they want. It’s pretty simple really.
And for most people, the point at which they fail to live life on their own terms comes down to the same thing — housing.
Tens of millions of people of all ages will find their houses, and housing stock in general, to be too big, too expensive and too hard to maintain. For younger people, these barriers can prevent them from owning a home of their own. For older people, sustaining a big unwieldy house can be the thing that tips the scale from independence to dependence. This insight is behind the “tiny house” craze that has fascinated so many people.
I’ve decided to follow the example of Goldilocks and develop a new approach to housing that isn’t too big, or too small. I wanted to create a house that would be “just right” for millions of people. I used my time in Japan and my study of its architecture to inspire a new kind of house, a compact, digitally native, modular, panelized house that is both affordable and easy to live in. It seemed right to call this model the “Minka” because that is the Japanese word for “a house for regular people.”
With backing from ChangingAging Tour sponsor Mainstreet Investments, I worked with BUILDlab architect David Bosworth to create a system of interchangeable house parts that can be combined and re-combined to give people just the house they want and need. We have leveraged the latest advances in digital design tools, robotics, and construction materials to minimize cost (for example by dramatically minimizing waste and rapidly accelerating completion time) and maximize customization. Better. Faster. Cheaper. We love the fact that a Minka can be exquisitely designed, rapidly “printed,” packed into a cargo container, shipped and assembled anywhere– in the world.
Our goal is to make the Minka available to people everywhere and be amazed by the way our customers use Minkas to foster independence and well being for themselves and the people they love. If you would like to learn more about our progress to date and, maybe, become part of the Minka story yourself don’t hesitate to explore MyMinka.com, sign up for our newsletter and follow the build process on Facebook.
Let the revolution begin!
You can listen to the entire podcast episode below:
NEW! Minka interior gallery
July 2017 Minka Barn-Raising