Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Two Faced Apartment

When conceiving a space, the ergonomics of living are very important–i.e. designing a layout and orientation of rooms that accords with the way we live. But design does not live in a bubble. Construction and engineering considerations and costs inform and often shape the way a space is ultimately built. The Insider home by the Spanish architectural firm Elii is an interesting example of a home that tries to marry both smart living ergonomics and cost-efficient construction.

The Insider acts as either two studios or one larger home. The space’s footprint is long and narrow. At the center of the space is an amenity core, featuring two bathrooms, a shower, a tub, two kitchens, laundry and storage. There is a shared entranceway off the stairway that can be closed off or opened depending on how the space is to be used (two studios or one home). On each side of the core are open studio spaces. We imagine this design would be very cost efficient, allowing Elii to build one, central structure that serves two spaces; it also serves to centralize plumbing, sewage and electric, which are usually the most costly elements of construction.

On the core structure, facing each studio space are a series of garage-style doors. Depending on which doors are open, the rooms can serve different roles. Open one door to reveal a kitchen. Open another and a bed slides out.

Other innovative features include “an energy measurement system which translates into a chromatic code,” according to Elii. They continue:

Energy consumption is reflected in the lighting of the home. The access to each house is possible thanks to hotel-type key cards which control the secondary electric circuits. According to the domestic experiments performed*, all these devices allow one to save up to 30% in the electricity bill.

Our main question would be how much natural light penetrates the space? The layout shows two window openings on either side, but the space feels dark overall (this, of course, is a problem with any long space without windows in the center). But Elii definitely succeeded in designing a useable space that reduces construction costs and can be used effectively as one big space or two smaller ones.

  • Steve Stearns

    The layout of the floor plan is intriguing and I generally like it as I think it is functional and efficient. It has sort of a minimalist Japanese or Chinese influence to it. However, all the roll-down doors and the video itself, make it seem to me like one is living in prison cell in a high crime area. When one sees those metal roll-down doors, their typical function is too keep criminals out and intense storms. This may be functional and serve the needs of that particular area, but not an space I would consider as an option.

    • David Friedlander

      i agree, the aesthetic is a bit institutional. though i can’t find any evidence of it, i think this was done on a pretty lean budget, based on some of the materials and appliances i see. i suspect those type of doors are pretty inexpensive and get the job done.

  • Rebecca Cody

    So many of these tiny homes would only work for one person. I realize a lot of people do live alone these days, but I imagine there are couples who would like to live in a small space. That home, for example, with its’ roll-down doors, would give a measure of privacy between the living space and kitchen. I’d like that because my husband has TV on nonstop while I prefer to listen to books on CDs in the kitchen. But he also takes naps (we’re retired) and that rolling door would wake him every time.