How not to lose your breath on the way to the attic
As strange as it may seem at the moment, we really do live in the best of times. What two hundred years ago would have been considered unbridled luxury has now become our everyday life. And this is not about shopping in Paris, fresh caviar with vintage champagne, or gold fittings in the bathroom. And even if I do mean bathroom fittings, even the most ordinary, made of white porcelain and stainless steel would have been considered a luxury not so long ago.
Diamond-platinum luxury for billionaires has of course always existed. The Tenth Duke of Marlborough, visiting his daughter – whose house was too small to accommodate a full set of his servants – reportedly left the bathroom at one point, indignant that his toothbrush was broken – he claimed it was refusing to foam up. It turned out that his toothpaste was always applied to the prince’s brush by one of his personal servants, for whom there was not enough space in his daughter’s palace, and the prince was completely unaware of the existence of toothpaste!
In the past, in most stately homes, however, servants did the most mundane tasks – cooking, washing, vacuuming and washing up. Their work by hand carrying metal jugs and running up and down the stairs was slowly replaced by both hot and cold water pipes, the plumbing through which both water and less pleasant substances from state rooms could be automatically evacuated . This housework was still hard, and the conditions were comparable to those of a well-stocked camp in a cold cave.
Some of the activities that we do not even think about today often required a dedicated employee in a larger household. Cleaning, maintaining and polishing the cutlery that could rust between meals was so time consuming that one of the first common household innovations was a kind of box with a handle and brushes inside, which accelerated these tasks dramatically. Early models of the Puffing Billy vacuum cleaners consisted of a brush and a very long pipe connected to a horse-drawn, combustion engine car parked in front of the house – a few years later an electric model was produced, miniaturizing the vaccum cleaner to the size of a small couch.
Over time, more and more household tasks have become rationalized and automated – from processing and storing food to doing the washing and cleaning dishes. In more modern houses, we can open the driveway gate and main entrance doors with the touch of a button, adjust the room temperature with a thermostat, or even turn on and off the lights by giving commands to an artificial intelligence based in a server situated in a concrete building somewhere without windows, probably on the other side of the planet.
Until recently, however, elevators were not considered to be a natural extension of the smart home idea. Their natural habitats seemed to be apartment blocks, hotels and office buildings, with a proudly glistening list of buttons from the underground car park reaching to the sky. Nobody could have imagined having this type of device in a private residence. Meanwhile, in cities, land prices continue to only go up, one-story buildings are rarely seen, and if you want a 250-meter house and a 200-meter garden on a 300-meter plot, the only solution is to add a few floors. However, our society is aging (we, of course, all think we are not aging as much as other people!!) – but not everyone wants or has the possibility to move to a single-story building outside the city in their old age.
Of course, no one wants to have a noisy, steel box in their home or office that smells of old neighbors. Fortunately, modern, small elevators and platforms are comfortable, beautifully glazed, and may even include a seat inside. Models such as the Cibes A4000 can even directly beautify a nicely arranged, modern space. And when we have our own lift at home, we can even hang photos of our family inside or decorate it with plants or flowers, because who can tell us we can’t?
Platforms also make good sense when a building needs to be accessible to the public, but there are not the conditions to be able to build a ramp for wheelchairs. Wheelchairs and pushchairs these days are not like the clunky models in either appearance or handling reminiscent of early 90’s medical equipment, so a mother with a baby in a stroller or an elderly couple can now use them without fear or embarrassment.
Stairs? Pff. Welcome to the new millennium, where people only exercise their legs when they feel like it.