The curtain of the future might filter out not just light and prying eyes but also electronic signals to give us peace and privacy of another kind. The RAM House by Genoa-based design research collaborative Space Caviar ironically looks a bit like a cage, as if you have to put yourself in time-out in order to escape from all of the texts, emails, app notifications and other distractions of modern life, but the idea of a space with an automatic ‘off switch’ is an intriguing one.
We’ve reached the point where the gaze of passersby is not nearly so much a privacy concern as the surveillance we’re under inside our own homes with all of the curtains closed, the designers note. “As the space of the home becomes saturated by ‘smart’ devices capable of monitoring their surroundings, the role of the domestic envelope as a shield from an external gaze becomes irrelevant: it is the home that is observing us.”
“The RAM House responds to this near-future scenario by proposing a space of selective electromagnetic autonomy. Wi-Fi, cellphone and other radio signals are filtered within the space’s core by various movable shields of radar-absorbent material (RAM) and faraday meshing, preventing signals from entering and – more importantly – exiting. Just as a curtain can be drawn to visual expose the domestic interior of a traditional home, panels can be slid open to allow radio waves to enter and exit, when so desired.”
The house itself is ultra-compact, with cabinet modules on sliding rails offering access to the office, kitchen, library and bathroom functions. When fully collapsed, the cabinets form a solid electronically shielded unit. Once you open them you allow signal traffic to flow.
It’s kind of frightening to think about just how exposed we are within our supposedly private spaces thanks to technology – convenience comes at a cost, and smart homes learn just about all their is to know about their occupants in order to best serve them. The RAM House is like the proverbial hut in the woods to which we can retire when we want to truly escape, while enabling us to rejoin the modern world at the flip of a switch.