The idea of owning a big house has never crossed my mind. Truth is, I hate big houses. It is not just the overbearing mortgages that I detest, but how I feel in large homes. I never felt 100% comfortable in large homes and I think it is largely because there is just too much empty space. So as a young child, I always dreamt of owning a small, cozy house that provided a place of refuge, one that I could call home. My desire to own smaller house grew when I began to learn more about tiny homes that are space efficient. However, this blog post is not about tiny homes but on micro-apartments in high density areas that can potentially be an affordable housing option to the public.
Sarah Susanka’s Not So Big House emphasizes that the feeling of “Home” has almost nothing to do with size but how efficiently space is used. Space is not just limited to how big or small the apartments are but how the community uses their communal space. Therefore, I wanted to take a deeper look into micro- apartments in high density areas, such as Tokyo, Japan and see how creative design can challenge the traditional use of space so that every available space counts for something. The two examples below best highlights how challenging the traditional perspectives on space can create valuable property assets.
Apartment 1 in Tokyo, Japan
Apartment 1 is located in the heart of Tokyo and is a 5 unit apartment (25 sqm each) that are layered on top of each other on a 48 sqm property. The primary challenge for Kumiko Inui, the architect, was to use space as efficiently as possible while giving each unit a unique design. She accomplishes this by minimizing the area for the stairs and the hallways and alternating the position of the core by moving the stairs. Although this apartment is very small compared to the average size apartments in Japan (72 sqm), the floor to ceiling windows that allows natural light and great view of the city makes up for the lack of physical space.
This project makes us reevaluate the value of small plots of lands within cities that are often overlooked when planning for new development. Detailed photos can be viewed here.
Maid’s Room Renovation Project in Paris, France
Designers at Kitoko Studio turned a rundown, old-fashioned “maid’s room” into an 8 sqm apartment that is highly compact and functional. Maid rooms, as they lost their original purpose over time, transitioned into becoming attics or extra storage area. However as housing prices within cities continue to skyrocket, these neglected or forgotten spaces are becoming additional property assets.
The design can be best described as a ”Swiss Army” concept, because the apartment holds multiple tools such as sliding drawers and shelves, tables and chairs, and hidden twin size bed and storage areas. What I find impressive in this design is that even in an 8 sqm area, the apartment has a tiny kitchen with a refrigerator, sink, removable stovetop, and microwave. Behind a hidden door, there is a bathroom that contains a toilet, shower, and bathroom sink.
Detailed photos of this simple apartment can be viewed here.
I do not think that apartments in high density areas need to be this compact, but I just wanted to give examples of an apartment that cleverly uses unexpected, tiny space available to create a home that is charming and livable.