How small can an apartment be

There is a lot of interest around micro-apartments. Or Micro living. Or small spaces.

There was this video that circulated about what industrial designers seem to be doing to furniture. All furniture is getting the automotive desing treatment – by which I mean that the design and manufacturing of furniture is becoming heaps more sophisticated. When engineerng does furniture then the humble table becomes a tranformable hi-tech gadget. This gadgetisation of furniture is going reasonably unremarked – and you still have sites like Design Milk that push a form of minimalist primitivism. If all furniture becomes gadgetized – then what else are we waiting to see in furniture.

This is Their motto is space reinvented. This is what they say about their philosophy: “Living in smaller – and most importantly – more efficient spaces while also constructing smaller and more energy efficient buildings is the cheapest and most economical way to make a dent in greenhouse gas emissions.”

Micro-houses are topical – people seem to be exploring this idea. I belong to a facebook group called – Tiny Houses Australia.

These design retailers have house designs too (Click to see more): Muji House,  Ikea HOUSE

Japanese Micro Homes are a subject worthy of respect:

If you listen to the architect Kengo Kuma, the craze for kyosho jutaku, that distinctly Japanese variant of the micro home, started in the thirteenth century, when the poet Kamo no Chomei penned an essay about the joys of living in a shack called An Account of My Hut.

The Very Small Home: Japanese Ideas for Living Well in Limited
by Azby Brown, Kengo Kuma (Introduction)

The Very Small Home is an inspiring new book that surveys the creative design innovations of small houses in Japan. Eighteen recently built and unusual houses, from ultramodern to Japanese rustic, are presented in depth. Particular emphasis is given to what the author calls the “big idea” for each house-the thing that does the most to make the home feel more spacious than it actually is. Big ideas include ingenious sources of natural light, well thought-out loft spaces, snug but functional kitchens, unobtrusive partitions, and unobstructed circulation paths.

Then we have smart apartments –
In Portland, Iotas’ pre-wired smart apartments let you rent the high-tech life By Jenny McGrath (Read more )

The Smarter Apartment: How to live in the home of the future, right now. By Jillian Goodman

This is Breathe Architecture talking about their project in Brunswick – The COMMONS – Binq is proud to be a major part of The Commons, a sustainable “Green” apartment building in Brunswick Melbourne.

The Press about the Project.

This is the Rem Koolhaas video that everyone is talking about.

A Barcelone Story

A UK Story Plus Someone else cataloging small apartment ideas.

If Cars were built like houses. Check this video out.

Why can’t a house be built as well as a car? An article on TreeHugger.

For the poetic narrative of the tiny space – one navigated by neding to enter Ann Kline’s book is a masterpiece. A Hut of One’s Own: Life Outside the Circle of Architecture By Ann Cline.

The question for us then is what is the future going to look like. For one Urry proposes the notion of ‘copresence’ as what we yearn for. Social media, facebook and snapchat, give us presence – we are in effect with other people all the time. Just not physically. Is this why many young people around the world are not interested in driving, or owning cars? Young people are on the screen a lot – but their screen time is different from watching TV. In fact watching TV is reasonably uncool. This is another practice thats dying.

Were the design people to channel some of these practice of the new kids growing up – we might have a very different way of thinking about how we live.

The Commons took out the washing machine from the apartment and the car park from the block. So we get a laundromat for the apartment (social space?) and cycling+carShare. The generation of social space – unintentionally? – is something I am keen to watch. A colleague described the city as the ‘urban lounge’ (reference?) – where you hang out in the city, and crawl into the apartment to hibernate. These are some pretty interesting ideas – and combined with the ‘smarts’ we are looking at a future of some very neat experimentation.

Update: Re explaining Jaliangan and other such.

I am interpreting Jaliangan (the grill+courtyard) portmanteau word as:
  1. Jali – how the built form talks to the city. As in pinterests here.
  2. Angan – the courtyard or Urban Lounge ( As in this Pinterest here.
So we can chip away at the meanings that are currently situated within the notion of the ‘home’.
  1. Re urban lounge – while provision of ‘amusement’ and ‘social space’ is what it currently refers to I imagine this is already being reinterpreted as we speak. As something much more.
  2. So if all service – is taken out of the apartment, and much of the private functionality of the ‘social’ is provided for outside – aka tent city – then we have a ‘future discourse’. More edgy. Cooking, Washing, watching, making, Playing – are all external to the core.
  3. If the notion of your ‘vault’ or apartment as the ‘personal collection’ is pulled out as a service – reinterpreted locker room? – then we have another component of the meaning re conceptualised.
What then is the meaning (hence brief) of this new artefact – the micro-apartment?
Lets say we leave behind the bed and the toilet as the core of this new notion of the apartment. We then are interested in finding out what is going on in the developments around these two notions of “the sleep” and “the toilet”. These two examples below are a hint of the work going on currently. I went looking for the smart toilet and bed and this is what I found.
Then on smarts:
1. The toilet: Toto is away making networked toilets.
2. The bed: The bed and sleep are getting a slightly different exploration – tough still within the space of the internet of things.

Published by Soumitri Varadarajan

Soumitri lives in Melbourne, Australia - #probonodesign #codesign #sustainability #patientexperience #quantifiedself #mdg

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