[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 May, 2005, 12:33 GMT 13:33 UK
Family start 'future house' study
Projectlife house
The luxury house looks normal from the outside
A family acting as human guinea pigs in a project to see how homes will be used in the future is set to move into a specially-designed house.

The Parnell family, of Sheffield, will spend six months in their hi-tech home, where their every move will be followed for the University of Nottingham study.

Tags will monitor which rooms they use for three periods of two weeks.

The five-bedroom house has seven TVs, five bathrooms, self-cleaning windows and a blow-up dummy which irons shirts.

The aim is to examine "how modern families are living in houses", said father Nick Parnell.

We will be tagged but it's not like Big Brother really - there are no cameras
Sue Parnell

He and his wife Sue, both 42, and their daughters Lucy, 16, and Hazel, 13, were chosen from 70 applicants wanting to take part.

The family has already spent the weekend trying out the house before being officially handed the keys on Wednesday.

The luxurious four-floor building, on the edge of Sheffield, has features including a laundry chute to take dirty clothes to the cellar, heated floors and phones that double as intercoms.

Clear glass panels embedded in floors to maximise natural light
Inflatable dummy which irons shirts
Separate waste-bins for paper, compost, plastic, tins, glass etc
Three taps in kitchen - for hot, cold and filtered drinking water
Heated floors
Self-cleaning windows coated with a special chemical which holds dirt in a layer which is then washed off by rain
Silent dishwasher
Laundry chute
Phones which double as intercoms between rooms
Moisture-removing fans
Electromagnetic sliding doors to isolate each floor in case of fire
Digital picture frame, which rotates favourite snaps
Outdoor hot-tub with CD player
Shower with steam and massage functions
There is a sunken bath with a wall-mounted TV screen and DVD player, an outdoor hot-tub and a bedroom with a line of soft floor-level lights designed to guide guests to the bathroom in the night.

Mrs Parnell, a teacher, said: "The sunken bath is fantastic. I've already had two baths and watched a film at the same time.

"But I've already decided not to have one before I go to work because I don't think I'd ever get out of it."

She said the family planned to treat their stay as a six-month holiday and would try to forget they were under scrutiny.

"We will be tagged but it's not like Big Brother really - there are no cameras," she said.

"We might feel a little self-conscious to begin with but I think as time goes by we will forget about the experiment."

Guests at the Parnells' temporary home will also be given electronic "wristband" tags to wear.

Sunken bath in the Projectlife house
A sunken bath comes with a wall mounted TV and a DVD player

"They [the researchers] will be able to study the profile of which rooms get used most and which don't, at which times of day," Mr Parnell said.

"They want to know how modern families are living in houses these days, with a view to designing houses better in the future."

The house has been developed by Nottingham University, along with Leicester University and construction firm David Wilson Homes.

The firm hopes the project will help it tailor homes built in the future to the real needs of modern families.

It hopes to answer questions such as whether families really want separate dining rooms, whether children want places to do their homework near the rest of the family and how many en-suite bathrooms are needed to sell a house.

Researchers are also interested in who spends most time in the bathroom, who does the laundry and the family's energy consumption.

Family opts to be tagged in house
22 Feb 05 |  South Yorkshire
Hopefuls enter Big Brother house
27 May 05 |  Entertainment
DNA database Big Brother warning
12 Jan 05 |  UK Politics
Putting a face to 'Big Brother'
08 Nov 04 |  Technology

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific