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Why won't this work?

http://www.loftcube.net/

An itty-bitty loft you can park on rented roof space. Since this is so incredibly appealing to me if I were single, I have to conclude there's a reason it won't work.

Since you're in urbia, I figured you'd have some theories...

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Roof space isn't really available in congested areas. There's stuff up there, such as building mechanicals. If the roof is flat it is usually sealed using some kind of expensive and delicate membrane that can't have things put on it without causing leaks. In tight residential markets like Manhattan on either side of the park, landlords have already built out onto their roofs to the maximum extent possible. Zoning regulations limit the floor-to-area ratio (FAR) meaning every site has a maximum number of floor square feet it can legally support and many sites have already built out to their maximum FAR (or sold their rights to adjacent sites).

Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Who the hell wants to live like an art installation in some glass box on top of someone else's roof?

There's a nice one outside the Design Museum in London if you're interested, Philo.

John Topley (www.johntopley.com)
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

We have those back in south Lousiana, where I grew up. Only, we called them TRAILERS.

Mr. Analogy
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Why would you ask Joel about this?  The website talks about these issues.  Call them up, ask them, and call up the city.  Remember these things were originally designed for Berlin, which is nothing like Manhattan.

Oren Miller
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I don't think this loft cube thing is designed for the owner to put on someone else's roof as a permanent living space. 

First of all, there are all the issues Joel mentioned.  And how are you supposed to conviently get on/off the roof in the first place??  And what about water, sewage, etc.???

It really looks more comparable to an enclosed patio or porch.  I think it's just for people who like hang out on the roof of their building but want to be protected from the elements. 

Immature programmer
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

This belongs to the class of 'solutions' which seem like a really cool idea, until thousands of people want to take advantage of it.

One or two of these, on 'wasted' roof space, seem like a good idea -- but who says the roof space is 'wasted'?  The concept says it is for nomadic people -- who is that?  It's meant to be moved by freight helicopter?

The wealthy enough to afford this lifestyle would probably just rent the top floor, and be done with it.  The 'hippie, bohemian' vision of the designers does not seem practical.  I see a roof-top filled with these things like mushrooms -- and how do these bohemians get down?

AllanL5
Wednesday, April 14, 2004


Microsoft campus has low buildings with nice wide roof tops. Maybe Philo wants one for himself as a performance bonus or something.

Are those the new "in" things at the cavern of evil?

grunt
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I asked Joel because I knew he'd know why it wouldn't work - he's a practical guy who just did a ton of real estate research in an urban area. ;-)

I have two approaches where it's appealing -
1) As a single guy, it's basically an efficiency/loft apartment in a cool place.
2) It would be kind of a neat solution for a medium-term contractor - park an apartment on the roof of the client's building.

In both cases, the real appeal is the impermanence of it - no reason to stay in one place.

Personally, if I wasn't married, I wouldn't need a lot of space - a bedroom, small kitchen, small study, so I think it'd be fine. At least until I had a psychotic episode from living in a fishbowl...

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Umm ... what about the problem of getting on/off the roof?  And sewage?

And I don't know if it would be safe or worthwhile for a medium-term contractor to build this thing on a clients building while working on that building as opposed to just parking trailers somewhere nearby like contractors usually seem to do. 

Immature programmer
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Man who live in glass house should get dressed in basement.

Confucius
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I can't imagine the insurance people liking this. They'd be screaming about the fire hazard.

Not to mention that the roof probably isn't built for the point loads.

Edward
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

It's modular - in theory designed to be moved by cargo helicopter or crane.

Most office buildings have roof access.

And BTW, yeah, it's a 21st century doublewide, but with a pretty nice view. ;-)

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Where does the Pinto-rusting-away-in-the-grass go?

Edward
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Philo, I once spent weeks trying to get permission to put a satellite dish on the roof of one of the buildings at Microsoft. They don't even let you wear SHOES up there. Roofs (rooves?) are delicate, especially stupid bauhaus-inspired flat roofs that can't shed water properly. And my grandmother's townhouse here in Manhattan had thousands of dollars of damage because the tenants left some chairs out on the roof once. Not gonna work. Looks more like an architecture student's final project, really.

Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Looks more like an ad for DuPont, if you actually go through the flash stuff. Never seen so much Corian in my life.

Edward
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

See, the loftcube thing looks stupid, but Corian is great stuff.  Looks nice, doesn't stain, very easy to clean.  And if you accidentally scratch it, you can just sand and polish it out!  I want to get Corian kitchen counters in my place.

BTW ... what does any of this have to do with software.

Immature programmer
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

There's actually a deep connection between software and architecture.

This is why programmers toss around terms like "Software architecture" and "Design patterns" and other such things.  Remember, the first Design Patterns were for Architecture.

Coincidentally, as your architect is trying to do flat roofs right for the 500th time (and failing), Microsoft's trying to make component-based programming work for the who-knows-how-many-th time (OLE, COM, COM+, DCOM, CLR, Longhorn, etc), some hundered programmers are trying to solve the impedence mismatch between database and objects, and so on.

I like the dudes who had shipping-container houses, personally.  Those were cool, and allowed you to do all of your home maintenence and remodeling with an oxy-acetylene torch. ;)

Flamebait Sr.
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I always wonder what it must be like to talk to one of these people who seem to need that JoS remains 100% about software and only software. Do you think it's impossible to change the subject?

"I just bought a new car."
"Yeah, what did you get?"
"A Honda Pilot"
"SUV, right?"
"Yeah."
"You gonna take the SUV tax deduction?"
"No, we're talking about cars. Please pay attention."

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

"I always wonder what it must be like to talk to one of these people who seem to need that JoS remains 100% about software and only software."

Uhhh ... dude, I'm the guy that went off about Corian kitchen counter tops (which are far more interesting and practical than the loftcube thing IMO).  I simply asked if it had something to do with software (Flamebait Sr. seemed to think so).   

So ... how 'bout those Spurs! 

Immature programmer
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Sorry - you caught years of pent-up annoyance. :)

As for what it has to do with software - I'm a developer with Microsoft talking about living in a box in the sky

...how much more out of touch with reality can you get?

[grin]

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

That sure looks like a 21st century version of Farnsworth House. Do you want idyllic countryside, or do you want to be on display for the whole city?

http://www.farnsworthhousefriends.org/

Nate Silva
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Bauhaus inspired flat rooves (roofs?). Oddly, this Loft Cube seems sort of Bauhaus to me.

If you look, the base looks flat - no real load points, the load is spread over the entire surface area. And I don't know anything about rooves in Europe, maybe some quirk of their buildings being, you know, like, pre-Bauhaus might have something to do with it working there.

What confuses me is the "nomadic" aspect. A 55 000 Euro box with repeated installation costs (?) strikes me as being expensive. It would make a fun guest house though. Maybe with hippie translucent panels for relative privacy. "Choose the color of your sunrise and sunset." Or windows on the roof (the roof of the thing on the roof) instead of the sides for complete sunlight and privacy.

Or a small restaurant in one... That would be neat. With like 5 to 10 tables. Any investors, contact me...

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

If your client won't let you live in a trailer home in their carpark while you work for them, I can't see them agreeing to something as extreme as this.

Darren Collins
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

>"You gonna take the SUV tax deduction?"
>"No, we're talking about cars. Please pay attention."

Well said. Although IP may not have deserved it, I think that that post could be stuck once in all the *off-topic* posts on JoS. Actually just about every single post, regardless of content, has someone come along and post a "you are a loser, this is not about software, we just don't care" type post.

No, we're talking about cars. Please pay attention!!

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Mark, when I look at the first picture, I see the whole unit being supported by a few columns. I'd call that point loads.

Edward
Thursday, April 15, 2004

I rather suspect the flat rooves at Redmond are more the result of hiring an archtect who built for software companies in San Jose where it doesn't rain much, than any Bauhaus influence.

Flat rooves are a lot cheaper than other types of rooves (and the roof is by far the most expensive part of the building), and in the Middle East for example have other advantages (you can sleep on them, or put the central air conditioning units and satellite dishes on them depending on how rich a country you live in). They are not very good when you get more than about 15" annual rainfall though.

The membrane is expensive - though a lot less so than building a tiled roof would be - and if you are going to put a satellite dish on the roof, what you need to do is build a concrete plinth high enough to make sure the lugs to support the dish don't penetrate the membrane below the plinth. You can do it yourself in a couple of hours. I think I paid about $30 for it on my roof.

The cube idea is incredibly stupid. Anywhere so short of space you would want to pay a helicopter to lift it up is going to have the roof used anyway - Barcelona they put two or even three layers of residential flats - and anywhere with enough spare space for it and all the associated sewage, water and electricity infrastructure is going to have that space on the ground so you simply use a trailer or biring in your pre-fab.

By the way what is Corian, and why are people so keen? I'm building my own house, so I need something for the kitchen counter-tops.

Stephen Jones
Friday, April 16, 2004

Corian is "the hot thing" in yuppie homes in the US. I think the big appeal is that it's seamless and homogenous, so as someone said - if you nick it or scratch it you can polish out the damage.

However, it *will* scorch if you put a hot pot on it. (No, I didn't - friend of the family did) It's also ridiculously expensive (the counters have to be custom-made)

Expensive enough that you might as well do a price comparison on solid granite. :)

Philo

Philo
Friday, April 16, 2004

Re: corian

Corian does rock -- I have a small corian countertop and seamless undermount sink in my upstairs bathroom.  But it is also quite expensive and hard to work.

A material you might want to look at is paperstone, aka richlite.  (Google those names for more info.) It's been used in commercial kitchen applications for many years, and is just now starting to be used in residential kitchens.  I recently redid my entire kitchen and built about half the countertops out of black richlite.

It's made out of sheets of paper embedded in a bakelite-like matrix.  It's extremely strong, supports huge cantilevers, won't scorch up to 350 F and is considered environmentally friendly.

Downsides -- limited colour choice, cannot be made glossy, limited availability, not many people know how to work it, hard to seam, and, like everything else, expensive.

Eric Lippert
Friday, April 16, 2004

Corian has been around for quite awhile.  And if Corian has all the cosmetic and functional advantages as genuine marble or granite for even slightly less, it seems to be a reasonable alternative. 

My parents had Corian installed in their place when they remodeled their kitchen (that's how I learned about it).  It looks great and they like it.  And my mother cooks constantly ... no scorch marks after several years.  I suspect you'd have to work pretty hard or be extremely careless to scorch the stuff.

Your just mad because people get more excited about Corian than the Lofcube thing :)   

Immature programmer
Friday, April 16, 2004

>>things were originally designed for Berlin, which is
>> nothing like Manhattan.

Wait until Leonard Cohen gets his way

Damian
Saturday, April 17, 2004

> Wait until Leonard Cohen gets his way

LOLOLOLOLOLOL

www.MarkTAW.com
Saturday, April 17, 2004

"Your just mad because people get more excited about Corian than the Lofcube thing :) "

No, actually I'm more interested in Corian - after my wife's friend scorched hers (I don't know how), then it was "granite and only granite"

Obviously since I don't care, I'd be happier with the cheaper stuff. :)

Philo

Philo
Saturday, April 17, 2004

I decided to have limestone countertops purely because they were so pretty.  A little more prone to chemical reactions than granite, though.  Some other unique countertop options are stainless steel, butcher block (wood),  and cement.  I've never really cared for the look of corian.  It's always an option to just get a laminate coutertop, and change out the laminate when it starts to look like crap.  You can even do it yourself, if you are handy.

Keith Wright
Monday, April 19, 2004

"Quick exposure to hot items are fine; however, for prolonged exposure, a trivet is recommended."

http://www.dupont.com/corian/a/en/h/Home/intro.html

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, April 19, 2004

Oh, and maybe it was a trick of the light, but I thought I saw it resting on a platform of some sort, solid, and square for the entire length & width of the structure. But what do I know.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, April 19, 2004

This thing is just a trailer for rich folk.

Tapiwa
Thursday, April 22, 2004

Hey, I just googled "Paperstone" and came to your discussion.  Just wanted to let you know that I'm a rep for Paperstone and it's much less expensive than Richlite.  Yes, it is very enironmentally friendly.  We don't have a dealer yet in the East (which I think you're from) so shipping could add up, but I'd be happy to send some samples.  Just email me back if you want me to send you some.  Sorry for interupting!  Ann Barr

Ann Barr
Thursday, April 22, 2004

Firstly, give the kids a break.  The Loftcube is still in its prototype stages, and they're trying to come up with a marketable solution for crowded urban living.  Six young men and one young girl who think "Hey, this looks hip and retro, and wouldn't it be cool to live in the sky."  With further research, perhaps the loftcube will be an adaptable living space.  Perhaps attaching it to the sides of a tall apartment complex rather than the roof?  The loftcube is not dead yet, and who's to say people won't simply adapt them into their backyards as a space for guests and kids.  Rather than discount the loftcube altogether, I think there are alternatives to its current primary objectives.

Roof-top usage is not uncommon in most places, and Berlin is no exception.  There are numerous buildings with roof-top cafes and even more with rooftop gardens.  It's naive, but I understand where the group was going with it all. 

Though the cost is 55,000 Euro (which values itself just under $66,000 by today's market), it's still cheaper than most apartments and flats available for sale in most major cities (except maybe Bucharest).  I think the main concern is not its location so much as its transport.  What Matrix heros are out there that can delicately place a large white cube in the middle of a skyscraper filled city without doing any damage at a reasonable cost to the buyer? 

Jennifer
Thursday, April 29, 2004

The most expensive cost of housing in major urban areas is not the structure but the land.  Even if the buildings could support the load and had space available the roof space isn't free.

Jeremy
Thursday, April 29, 2004

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