Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud has a unique insight into what the homes of the future will look like, partly thanks to his day job and partly because of his obsession with new technology.
We headed to the exhibition for an exclusive chat with Kevin and to find out more about the eco-friendly, smart homes revolution:
What technology are house builders focusing on now?
Technology continually surprises us with its flexibility - people are pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved. We’re currently filming a super-engineered house in Devon that has these amazing curved, diamond-shaped solar panels covering its body. It looks like snakeskin.
The people we feature on Grand Designs are right on the edge. They bet all their life savings on an innovative piece of technology that nobody’s tried before - and it’s wonderful.
How far have we come in terms of building more energy-efficient homes?
Five years ago, self-builders pursued a low-energy strategy because they were conscious of the environment. Now, businessmen are saying: "It’s obvious, why wouldn’t I build a home that doesn’t have bills?"
It’s almost a status symbol – green technology is clever and people want to be associated with clever things. It’s dumb to build a gas-guzzling home now.
What will homes be like in five years?
We are going to see the rise of the smart home. You won’t need to invest in hard-wired big control panel, you will be able to buy five key pieces of technology, probably for around £750, that will all talk to each other.
Your fridge will read its contents and order ingredients for you. It will also connect to the National Grid and work out the minimum power it needs to keep your contents fresh so there’ll be no need to turn extra power stations on. A Foobot – or similar – will measure your air quality and connect with your Amazon Echo, which will inform you when need to open a window. Light switches will become redundant because bulbs will have little WiFi components in them and be controlled by your smart phone.
And in the next 10 years?
I fully expect that within 10 years a new home will have solar panels to charge electric cars. This car will connect to an app that works out how much battery power your journey requires, and use the excess energy to heat and light your home, then recharge overnight.
How 'green' is interior design?
The construction side of the industry is much further ahead than interior design, largely because legislation requires it to be.
Sustainable furnishings is a surprisingly poor market, but there are companies that offer environmentally friendly designs of inherently good quality - and they're who I champion as my 'Green Heroes'.
How do you pick your Green Heroes?
An item has to be clever and beautiful as well as ecological. As designer William Morris famously said: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”. I try to pick things that are both.
Scroll through the gallery above to find out more about Kevin’s Green Heroes.
Grand Designs Live is at the ExCel London until Sunday 7 May. Tickets cost from £12, buy them here.