Feargus O’Sullivan is doing a series in CityLab right now on the “home designs” that define four European cities: London, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Paris. The first one is on London’s classic “two-up, two-down” design, which refers to a two storey home with a living room and kitchen on the ground floor and two bedrooms on the second. It’s a simple design, but one that has supposedly endured.
O’Sullivan argues that for many, or perhaps most in Britain, this is what a “home” feels like. It’s grade-related and there are two floors. Indeed, only 14% of British people live in an apartment, compared to 57% in Germany (a majority). This percentage is much higher in London, with about 43% of people living in an apartment. But about 25% of the population still lives in some sort of attached house.
Home equals house. And for us North Americans, this is of course relatable. But the Germany example is a reminder that this is not necessarily universal. Attitudes toward housing are cultural. And cultures can and do change. I am seeing that happen right now in Toronto. Some of us are becoming less like the British and more like the Germans.