Architecture nowadays is used to make the most of unused spaces in cities, people are rethinking the idea of living space in the city and developing creative but at the same time need-oriented living concepts. Architects, interior designers and engineers are increasingly responding to the need to live in small homes that make the most of every inch of the floors, walls and even the ceiling. The aim of this concept is to offer a high quality of life within an extremely small area.
Many talented designer from London, Beijing, USA and all over the world showcased different modular system for creating tiny customisable living spaces.
13 Square Metre House, London, by Studiomama
This 13 Square Metre House is an installation to illustrate how micro living can work. Situated in north London with adjustable plywood furniture, which is quite a challenge for any interiors designers, as everything has to be custom designed as there is no room for any off the shelf furniture. The aim of this project was to make a tiny space comfortable for living.
Each area hosts a different function, including a bed, a work space, lounge seats, a kitchen, bathroom, closet storage and dining area. The use of one dominant material has made space seamless- where floor, walls and ceiling come together as one. Materials used are also very warm that makes space feel cosy and cabin like.
The walls of the room are angled and feature two large windows that face the street. A dining table with benches is designed with flaps at the end of the benches to create extra seating. Mirrors placed on either side of the space, including one that runs above the kitchen counter, this form is more likely to create a sense of spaciousness.
For workspace, a small desk can be pulled out from the cabinet to allow for working standing up, a laptop is stored above and technical equipment below.
For rest space, the bed sits at the narrowest end of the triangular room. It folds up when not in used to create extra space, and folds down to reveal two thin bookshelves and a bedside table.
9.29 Square Micro pod, Hong Kong, by James Law Cybertecture studio
HK studio James Law Cybertecture has built a prototype to show how a typical micro home could look.
This micro pod home is approximately 9.29 square metre Inside the pod, the home contains facilities for basic living, cooking and bathing. All doors can be unlocked using smart phone devices. The curve concrete walls are whitewashed, and a fully glazed front panel doubles as a door and window. The lighting is provided by lighting strips set under the shelves and a retractable lamp set into the wall.
Additional bench seat can be folded down to also function as a bed, with the cushions doubling as a mattress. There is also room for a mini fridge, a microwave cooker, a rail to hand clothes from and a stand to place a suitcase on.
Each unit weighs 20 tonnes, it can be lifted and relocated onto the relative building case. This experimental unit would appeal to the younger generation as it is a starter home with private space in vacant city-centre locations across Hong Kong.
The 2017 Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey ranks Hong Kong as having least affordable housing market in the world and is currently facing a major housing crisis, due to a rising population, high demand for accommodation, skyrocketing property prices, and land limited by the city’s island geography.
This project is still in the experimental stages, Law doesn’t see this new home as a permanent solution to the crisis. Studio founder James Law claims his micro apartments cost approximately £11,000 each to manufacture, and could be rented out for less than £300 a month. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is mostly over £1,500.in the centre of Hong Kong. The designers believe that this design could provide temporary relief for residents looking for affordable living in the short term.
30 square metre Micro Hostel, Beijing, by Zhang Ke
Chinese architect, Zhang Ke has installed the 30-square-metre micro hostel in old Beijing hutong as part of the ongoing Micro Hutong Renewal project. The goal is to search for possibilities of creating ultra-small scale social housing within the limits of ancient neighbourhoods in Beijing.
The hostel is made of concrete mixed with Chinese ink, which was poured in-situ and cast against wooden boards. These rough concrete surfaces are left exposed internally, which added a rough and irregular concrete finish to the hostel. It was important to the team that the project be sympathetic to the mismatched materiality of the ageing hutong.
The rooms are placed in a variety of angles into the courtyard, enhancing the flow of air and light to prevent the interiors feeling too cramped. Inside, the rooms include kitchen and dining space, two bathrooms, and two connecting corridors. On the upper level, the space contains a bedroom, a study and teahouse, and a terrace. There are also three openable skylights that allow air to circulate throughout the hostel.
A multifunctional living space at the front of the hutong acts as a barrier between the private rooms and the street. This room is available for use by the hostel residents as well as members of the public.
The highlight of this hostel is the direct relationship made between the living space contained in the dynamic volumes inside this traditional courtyard neighbourhoods- which is quite unusual to the Chinese capital.
Micro Cabin with climbing wall, London, USA, by Tiny Heirloom
A micro cabin living space with a climbing wall attached is created by American company Tiny Heirloom.
Rather than make a typical cabin house, Tiny Heirloom focused on the idea of micro living and therefore to design something that scale and maximise the available space.
The design concept is based on the idea of “adventure wherever you go”, this micro home can be attached to the back of a vehicle, and towed to the desired location. Along one side of the micro home is a moulded rock wall for climber lovers.
The designers decided to use wood for the structural frames and interior finishes. The wooden dining table lowers to align with its benched- forming a sleeping area. Can you imagine how the large dining table will turn to a queen size bed in one minute with the push of a button?
The cabin also comes with a basic kitchen, including an oven, stove, sink and fridge. A large window on the other side allow light into the compact space, and in addition the bathroom inside this micro cabin contains a jet-filled tub.
27 square metre Monocabin, Greece, by Milan’s Mandalaki Design Studio
Encompassing 27 square metres, Milan’s Mandalaki Design Studio created the very first prefabricated Monocabin in Rhodes, Greece as a vacation rental.
The Monocabin consists of a linear volume adjoined to a smaller box, in other words, the modular dwelling can be expanded to a bigger space. The home contains a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living/ dining area.
All the furniture are accommodated by a “smart wall” system, providing the owner a water heater, an air conditioning and heating system, an electrical panel, storage space and a TV. In this way, the home is eco-friendly and it is designed to minimise environmental impact, from construction to energy consumption.
The rooftop is cover in ribbed steel panels, and the triple-glazed windows have sandblasted aluminium frames. The walls are eight inches thick to ensure ideal acoustics and thermal insulation.
The team also offers a customisable setting for the wall surfaces. The exterior and interior walls can be customised with any finishing the client desire, from simple paint to stone or other design tiles. In addition, the client can select from add-on features, such as solar panels, automated blinds and a smart-home system.
Micro and prefabricated dwellings are increasingly seen as a viable option for addressing the global housing crisis. What makes this home stands out as it is fully customizable.
The idea of Mini Living helps to ease the issues of how to live in a compact living space to be of growing importance, especially given the trends towards urbanisation and rise of megacities. All these micro homes explore ways that architecture and design can contribute to a brighter urban future.