L41 House Packs A Lot Into 220 Square Feet

Once again we see how in architecture and design, regulation drives innovation; when Vancouver allows backlane housing, we get an explosion of ideas and prototypes. Architect Michael Katz and designer Janet Corne offer the L41 ("all for one") that squeezes everything you need for comfortable living into 220 square feet. According to the Tyee, It is designed to "tread lightly on this earth" and answer the question "how small can we build a home and keep it delightful?"

Architect Michael Katz has a track record of designing clever small things; he invented the first universal IR folding, mobile, keyboard, the Pocketop, which I owned and used with my Handspring.

Like Andy Thomson of the miniHome, he started with the kitchen. Katz tells the Globe and Mail:

"Instead of setting out to build a 220 sq. ft. unit, we set out to design a unit which we considered to be delightful. We started with a full kitchen and dining bar, and the rest fell into place."

And it does look comfortable. Katz writes:

The L41 home is designed for a generation that understands the principles of "small is beautiful", preservation of resources, improving the lives of others and enhancing our f uture by means of sustainable actions. With every inch of space utilized and many built-in storage solutions provided, L41 fulfills the maxim, "everything in its place and a place for everything".

Another interesting feature is the use of cross-laminated lumber walls, solid walls made from wood killed by the pine beetle. Katz says:

To put 1 billion cubic Meters in perspective, an L41 Studio requires 10 cubic metres of wood, which means that there is enough Beetle-killed wood in BC to build 100 million units!

It is important to note that Beetle-killed lumber is structurally sound. The blue color in the wood results from a blue stain fungus the bark beetles carry into the trees. The fungus is harmless to humans, pets and livestock and does not affect the structural integrity or strength of the wood.


The design also works in multiples. Katz tells the Globe and Mail that this home is designed for mass production, which he says is different from prefabrication:

"Up to now, the furthest they've managed to get is the prefabricated house and they're not the same as the mass-produced house. It doesn't use the miracle of the assembly line. All the pieces are prefabricated and then assembled. The idea is, just as cars were made available because of mass production, so too could houses be made available to a much larger number of people that can afford them."

And if people are willing to live in a home that small, then the land and servicing costs can be brought down as well. More at L41

Tags: Architects | Less Is More | Vancouver