CityHome Transformer Apartment "Functions As An Apartment Three Times Its Size"

© MIT Media Lab

We've written before that the traditional American dream is in trouble, that young people want to stay in cities and are less interested in the house with the big yard in the suburbs. Speaking in London recently, Kent Larsen of the Changing Places Group of the MIT Media Lab is quoted in Dezeen:

"People of the millennial generation are rejecting private cars, private homes, brands, owning a lot of stuff,” Larson said, speaking at the Urban Age Electric City conference in London last week. “They think of all these things as services rather than possessions and I think that will powerfully impact cities of the future.”

However, Larsen thinks the trend in San Francisco and New York to approve really tiny apartments is a mistake. "The problem is young people don't really like these tiny little apartments with a pull-out sofa." In the CityHome project, he describes a "small" apartment (840 square feet, which is hardly small today) that " can function as an apartment two to three times that size."

It is reminiscent of Graham Hill's LifeEdited project and the Barcode apartment, with moving walls and folding furniture. The first half of the video explores a different way of designing apartments on your iPad, the second half at around 1:45, the actual apartment, with screen shots below if you are impatient.

This is achieved through a transformable wall system which integrates furniture, storage, exercise equipment, lighting, office equipment, and entertainment systems. One potential scenario for the CityHome is where the bedroom transforms to a home gym, the living room to a dinner party space for 14 people, a suite for four guests, two separate office spaces plus a meeting space, or an a open loft space for a large party. Finally, the kitchen can either be open to the living space, or closed off to be used as a catering kitchen. Each occupant engages in a process to personalize the precise design of the wall units according to his or her unique activities and requirements.

© MIT Media Lab

Your morning starts with a workout in your private home gym. This is not an auspicious start for people who " think of all these things as services rather than possessions"- the gym is the ultimate service industry and would normally be built as a common element in a building this size.

MIT Media Lab/Screen capture

Flip a few panels and slide a few walls and you have an office for your "burgeoning startup."

MIT Media Lab/Screen capture

Big dinner parties seem to be a thing in the design of these apartments; I wonder how often they happen in reality, and if the expensive folding tables and so many chairs can be justified. Again, in a sharing economy, there might be common folding tables and chairs in the building, or even a party room.

MIT Media Lab/Screen capture

Certainly it won't be long before the cops are joining this party. At some point you really have to decide how much do you really need going on in your apartment, and I think this is probably too much. In a sharing economy, in a the middle of a city, what are the real essentials for your private space?

I will admit that I had many of the same doubts about Graham Hill's LifeEdited project, and it was done in half the space. This is going to be very expensive, and you can do a lot in 804 square feet without resorting to this much transformer stuff. When Le Corbusier first described the home as a machine for living, I don't think he imagined it having so many moving parts. More at Changing Places

Tags: Less Is More | LifeEdited | Living With Less | Small Spaces