A friend tweeted about it, which led to retweeting, comments, and some interesting discussion here.
We noticed that a number of people focused on the aesthetics of the initial house. We don’t want to knock House Zero, but we will agree it’s not our prettiest baby. Subsequent houses feature more trim (both exterior and interior) and less whiteboard, although the occupant may choose to add to the whiteboard coverage. The house occupant, really, is expected to generally tailor the house to suit themselves so long as nothing they do gets in the way of the potential for collaboration.
Speaking of collaboration, we saw some comments that “total isolation” isn’t good for developers. Our experience has been that there are periods where developers need to go heads down, shutting out the world. The houses are designed to encourage that while being arranged in neighborhoods that allow collaboration by just leaning forward and speaking to developers in a house on either side. And, if you need a quick standup, you can take about 5 steps and be in the center of the circle with whiteboards all around you and your fellow project team members. Maybe we’ll post a diagram of how the houses lay out into little project neighborhoods.
For the time being, we wanted to post some later pictures of the nine new houses, below, works in progress though they still are. Hopefully this will give you a better idea of how the Developer Town house will look initially, before the resident further customizes. We’re about ready to paint our new houses, although we have some wiring to finish first.
Once our wiring and painting is done, the houses can be further customized by the occupant. Beyond the basic desk placement, the house can be detailed out to the individual’s content. We’re leaving choices like internal lighting up to the each developer, as we know some people who despise fluorescent light, for example (the houses do have skylights, by the way). The individual will further have their own climate control for the house, although some of our ideas there may have to wait for our eventual relocation to warehouse space.
The initial set of houses will be grouped into two collaborative neighborhoods soon. We’re still in our general office space (as some called it “nasty office space with acoustic ceiling tile”); the long-term plan for Developer Town calls for rolling the houses into a trailer (the houses are designed with this in mind) and relocating to a warehouse, which should give us much more space to work with. And we do have ideas for that space. Our roofs do allow plenty of clearance for the sprinklers in the current office though, if anyone was worried.
House Zero was also honored with an appearance on There, I Fixed It (where the point seems to be someone posts a picture, then everyone else is a wise guy). Funny stuff! Our house inspired references to Les Nessman, Doctor Who, the Unabomber and, apparently, Mr. Mom?! Wow. One correction though: that isn’t a doggie door in our photo – it’s part of the case of the open PC that’s beside the house. We do have someone who is planning to install a dog door in his house however. Dogs rock.
As much as the online reaction interested us, for us the best feedback has come from visiting developers who have inspected the houses in person. We’ve had dozens of guests to our office to see the houses and nearly every one of them has shared the same reaction with us: “I want one.” We hope to grow the town to accommodate.
To that end, we’ve been heads down busy with several clients since our January launch, but plan to update more here soon. Once the houses are painted we’ll be sure to post new pictures.