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.

Prototype Apartment Pushes the Small Envelope

Yesterday, we asked “how small is too small” for a home? This is not necessarily a simple question to answer. Not all small is created equally. 420 sq ft can be airy and intelligent or dark and dumb depending on its design. For proof, look at the LifeEdited apartment before and after its conversion.

But assuming you design a space optimally, how small can you go? A San Francisco-based firm called SmartSpace is trying to answer this question.

They built a prototype starting with 160 sq ft of living space, which is the minimum legal size for a dwelling in California.

The space, dubbed SmartSpace 1.0, is a lab for what works and what doesn’t in such a tight space. An MIT student served as its guinea pig, living in it for 3 weeks to solicit feedback. Here are a few lessons learned about this ultra-compact home in particular, and, one can infer, small living in general:

  • The Euro-bath “wet” shower (no divided shower) doesn’t jibe with the American audiences–too much mess and water. V2.0 will have separate shower.
  • V1.0’s cute round sink couldn’t handle real-world pasta pots. V2.0 will have larger rectangular sink.
  • They found the portable induction cooktop drawer “too clever by half” and will be keeping it on top in v2.0. Incidentally, they use the same model as LifeEdited apartment.
  • Keep appliances out of site.
  • Air movement is essential even if it’s not heating or cooling. A ceiling fan is installed in v1.0.
  • Ceilings should be at least 9′ to create sense of space.
  • Width of unit should be at least 10′. V2.0 will be 11′ wide.
  • Finishes and materials should be high quality. Detail is much more evident when there are no gaps.
  • Built-in items are preferred to standalone. A lack of cohesion can be overlooked in big spaces, but in tiny ones uniformity and order work best.

To maximize utility, SmartSpace added clever touches like its “Smart Bench,” which is a table on a hydraulic lift. When raised, it acts as a banquette and table; when lowered it is a bench or, with the addition of a pad, a guest bed.

So does this intelligent prototype prove that 160 sq ft is the minimum amount of sq ft a person needs?

Not at all. The answer is there is no answer. Living spaces, like people, have different needs for their lives and homes. SmartSpace is particularly geared toward singles in San Francisco–a city that has many out-of-house diversions that compensate for small quarters.

What this shows is that the amount of space we need can be seriously reduced with an open mind and smart design.

via Fair Companies