A Design Solution for Tight Living Spaces

By Stacy Straczynski, Associate Editor

Feeling a bit tight on space? Take a cue from Hong Kong-based architect Gary Chang. Weird Asia News reports that Chang, who was finally fed up with having to live in crowded quarters for most of his life (he shared a 344-sq.-ft. space with six others for 30 years), Chang designed his own solution: the domestic transformer.

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The futuristic design reminds me a lot of Corbin Dallas’ apartment in the movie Fifth Element. In the movie, apartments are only a narrow room with all of life’s necessities stowed inside the walls, such as a fridge that slides over to reveal a fully functional shower, and a fold out bed that neatly disappears back into the wall. (God, I love that movie! I was LeeLoo for Halloween this year.) Chang’s design features the same fluidity, with a CD walls that slides to reveal a washing machine and dryer, and an entertainment wall—housing a plasma TV—that likewise reveals a full kitchen. Even his bathtub, which is over six feet in length transforms into a guest bed. Chang has 24 different room configurations in total, including a home theater spa, kitchen, bedroom, and a hammock lounge area.

Now while many would be hesitant to live in such tight quarters, even if you can squeeze an entire mansion into a couple of rooms, I think the success of Chang’s design speaks wonders for the evolution of architecture going forward—both for residential and commercial. With fluid spaces, hotels will be able to accommodate twice or even three times their current occupancy limits, while retail stores will be able to house even more merchandise to increase their sales potential. Imagine offices that transform from cubicle workstations into meeting rooms and then into collaborative team spaces all with the slide of a wall.

The challenge here for designers is now to take these metal track-mounted walls a step further and turn them into visually appealing apprentices, as well as increase the versatility of the configurations and the products used to allow for even more configurations.

What other areas can you see fluid designs playing a role in architecture? Do you think this is a viable solution to issues involving urban planning and sustainability?

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