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The Go Slow Movement spreading fast

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It all started with slow food, a movement “that was founded in 1989 to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.” But it is a meme that has caught on, the idea that you take it slow, do it carefully, do it right and take the time to enjoy it. The idea can be applied to almost anything we do in life, and become a trend spreading from Italy to UK, Canada and elsewhere.
We can now find Slow Cars, Slow Fashion, Slow Design, Slow Flying, Slow Travel, Slow Cities and Slow Homes.
Slow Cities is an outgrowth of the slow food movement and like it, started in Italy. According to Der Spiegel, “Slow City” advocates argue that small cities should preserve their traditional structures by observing strict rules: cars should be banned from city centers; people should eat only local products and use sustainable energy. In these cities, there’s not much point in looking for a supermarket chain or McDonald’s.
Slow Cities are cities which:
1. Implement an environmental policy designed to maintain and develop the characteristics of their surrounding area and urban fabric, placing the onus on recovery and reuse techniques.
2. Implement an infrastructural policy which is functional for the improvement, not the occupation, of the land.
3. Promote the use of technologies to improve the quality of the environment and the urban fabric.
4. Encourage the production and use of foodstuffs produced using natural, eco-compatible techniques, excluding transgenic products, and setting up, where necessary, presidia to safeguard and develop typical products currently in difficulty, in close collaboration with the Slow Food Ark project and wine and food Presidia.
5. Safeguard autocthonous production, rooted in culture and tradition, which contributes to the typification of an area, maintaining its modes and mores and promoting preferential occasions and spaces for direct contacts between consumers and quality producers and purveyors.
6. Promote the quality of hospitality as a real bond with the local community and its specific features, removing the physical and cultural obstacles which may jeopardize the complete, widespread use of a city’s resources.
7. Promote awareness among all citizens, and not only among inside operators, that they live in a Slow City, with special attention to the of young people and schools through the systematic introduction of taste education.
Architect John Brown proposes the Slow Home. “Suburban sprawl is like fast food; cheap and easy but also unsatisfying and boring.” says the intro Slow Home, which says “takes its name from the slow food movement which arose as a reaction to the processed food industry. In the same ways that slow food helps people learn how to become more familiar and involved with the food they eat, Slow Home provides design focused information to empower individuals to s
tep beyond the too fast world of cookie cutter housing. ”
He provides ten steps (listed bellow) to find the true slow home, including Go Local, Go Green, Go Small and Go Simple. The Annie House in Austin, Texas by Bercy Chen Studio is a good example.
From Brown’s description of the the house: The house is located in South Austin on a small infill lot. It was built for two families and therefore is split into two living areas. The house consists of two pavilions connected by a glass hallway. The house is a certified city of Austin green building project and scored 3 stars out of the highest possible 5 star rating. Sustainable principles of design are incorporated throughout.

The house is constructed of a modular steel frame. The frame is infilled with prefab thermasteel panels to minimize construction on site waste. The structural frame is exposed, showing the construction process and articulating the house’s facades. The repetitive modular method as well as the prefabrication allows for greater efficiency during construction. The 2nd floor in one of the pavilions is a viereendeel truss which acts like a bridge and minimizes the number of vertical structural supports in the 1st floor.

Ten Steps for better housing by John Brown:

Avoid homes by big developers and large production builders. They are designed for profit not people. Work with independent designers and building contractors instead.

Avoid home finishing products from big box retailers. The standardized solutions they provide cannot fit the unique conditions of your home. Use local retailers, craftspeople, and manufacturers to get a locally appropriate response and support your community.
Stop the conversion of nature into sprawl. Don’t buy in a new suburb. The environmental cost can no longer be justified. Re-invest in existing communities and use sustainable materials and technologies to reduce your environmental footprint.
Reduce your commute. Driving is a waste of time and the new roads and services required to support low density development is a big contributor to climate change. Live close to where you work and play.

Avoid the real estate game of bigger is always better. A properly designed smaller home can feel larger AND work better than a poorly designed big one. Spend your money on quality instead of quantity.

Stop living in houses filled with little rooms. They are dark, inefficient, and don’t fit the complexity of our daily lives. Live in a flexible and adaptive open plan living space with great light and a connection to outdoors.

Don’t buy a home that has space you won’t use and things you don’t need. Good design can reduce the clutter and confusion in your life. Create a home that fits the way you really want to live.
Avoid fake materials and the re-creation of false historical styles. They are like advertising images and have little real depth. Create a home in which character comes from the quality of space, natural light and the careful use of good, sustainable materials.
Avoid living in a public health concern. Houses built with cheap materials off gas noxious chemicals. Suburbs promote obesity because driving is the only option. Use natural, healthy home materials and building techniques. Live where you can walk to shop, school and work.
Stop procrastinating. The most important, and difficult, step in the slow home process is the first one that you take. Get informed and then get involved with your home. Every change, no matter how small, will make a difference.
Check also:
The Slow Way to go, by Alastair Sawday
Life at a Snail Pace, 1-day try of a ‘slow-go’ by Jess Cartner-Morley

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