There is an increasing space crisis going on across the world. The per sq. ft. cost of land in all major cities all around the world is at an all-time high and doesn’t seem to decrease given how less space is left to erect a new home. Buying a plot has become almost impossible and now there are flats and multi storied buildings that provide accommodation to all the families everywhere. In cities like Hong Kong, Mumbai, New York, Paris, there’s no space left to accommodate people lavishly and generally families squeeze into a 400-500 sq. ft. apartment comprising of 3-4 members. Below mentioned is the amount of land you can buy for 1 million dollars in the top 10 most expensive cities of this world to buy property –
Monaco – 15 sq. meters
Hong Kong – 20 sq. meters
London – 25 sq. meters
Singapore – 33 sq. meters
Geneva – 35 sq. meters
New York – 40 sq. meters
Sydney – 41 sq. meters
Paris – 42 sq. meters
Moscow – 43 sq. meters
Shanghai – 46 sq. meters
If you notice the maximum amount of land in the top 10 most expensive cities of the world that you can afford with 1 million dollars is 46 sq meters, which is equivalent to close to 500 sq. feet. This area is so small that it can inhabit a single bedroom flat for 2-3 people maximum. Now when the land prices are as high as this, what is it that is the solution? The solution is effective utilisation. The biggest struggle of any architect or interior designer today is to use the space available to them effectively because while the space available is decreasing, demands of residents to have the comforts adjustable in a larger home is increasing and thus it’s a challenge for them to utilise the space available such that they don’t compromise in comfort and luxury while they don’t make the home look clobbered and clumsy.
This quest to achieve effective utilisation of smaller spaces architects are coming up with very innovative and ultra-modern techniques to fit in a 1000 sq. ft. apartment in a 500 sq. ft. space. The techniques could involve a lot of modification, from converting the walls into movable ones, though not so easily moved that the house looks unstable, to making storage space within walls, thus eliminating the need for separate storage space. There could be beds hidden in walls, walk in closets attached to other parts of the house and bath tub fit under a book case with a shower cubicle right behind a study table, with the study table being detachable to work as a dining space for 5 if required. The innovations that can happen are endless and while most of them are non-feasible, architects and interior designers are trying their level best to come up with an idea that would revolutionise effect utilisation of space for comfortable and luxurious homes.
What are the added benefits of having such designs? With a space of how much ever area, if we try to include rooms, it gets tedious to maintain. Space functionality is a major leap into the future of urban living. Doing daily chores in rooms of sizes 200-300 sq. ft. is tougher than having multiple accessible rooms in that one bed room. With the help of movable walls, we could create multiple rooms in one. For e.g. with the help of movable walls running on tracks, we can develop the design of rooms within a room. While a bedroom traditionally used to be comprised of just a bed and may be a closet space for storage of various items of use, it will now have a bathroom, a working table and a dining table all within one small space of say 60-70 sq. ft., with blinders separating this with other spaces. This will decrease our work of moving from room to room doing our chores or in need of anything and will be not only space friendly but also would satisfy ergonomics.
Such designs have been developed in Hong Kong and Iran and look as if they are the future of urban living. In Iran, there is a house of 7 floors with rooms that move out away from the house on and above the street at the push of a button. This helps the rooms get more sunlight, improve the use of space which is generally ignored - the open space above the grounds in front of the house and provides with extra terrace space when in use on that floor. Each floor has an area like the bedroom, the office and the living room which are movable outside and hence don’t take up much space inside the house as separate rooms.
The other design which is very brilliant and is taking the architectural world by the storm is the one made in Hong Kong. Gary Chang, an architect has transformed the way we look at small spaces by inculcating 24 rooms in one. How, you ask? Well, he has effectively put movable walls and blinders to either have rooms in walls or behind walls or in between walls and blinders to separate one room from another. His bed is in built in the wall, has a TV which is right in front of the bed. The blinders separate the bedroom from the kitchen with tremendous storage space, or move it away and you will find a well-built bath tub with constant water supply. The wall right beside the kitchen has a washing and drying area with drawers to keep stacks of clean clothes in them. There’s a shower cubicle, a walk in closet and a toilet with tons of storage area fitting in that 360 s. ft. area.
With the decreasing amount of space and increasing cost to buy that limited area, it’s becoming more and more important to create such homes. It’s very encouraging and exhilarating to see such designs taking centre stage in architecture and architects and interior designers constantly battling it out to show who used the space more effectively. If we divert more of our time and energy in developing what Gary has done with such little amount of space, we can do wonders and create a new era of urban living.