Sydney micro-apartment designed with Japanese organizational technique in mind

Katherine Lu
© Katherine Lu

Smaller apartments in big urban centres are gaining traction, thanks to rising real estate prices and more people moving into the cities, drawn by opportunities not available elsewhere. While building smaller living spaces won't do much to tackle the underlying causes behind the lack of affordable housing, they seem to be part of a new reality where small is the new norm.

Aiming to maximize a tiny space in the city, Dezeen shows us how Australian designer Nicholas Gurney remodelled this 24-square-metre (258-square-foot) micro-apartment for a newly married couple, keeping clutter under control by following a Japanese set of organizational principles called the 5S.

Katherine Lu© Katherine Lu
Katherine Lu© Katherine Lu

The principles of the 5S include seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke, or "sort, straighten, shine, standardize and sustain". This methodology was developed in post-war Japan, as a way to maximize orderly efficiency in manufacturing, but has since spread to other areas like health care, education, and government. Gurney applied this to the interior design by first asking the clients to create a pared-down list of possessions so that the space and storage could be adapted around these elements.

The idea in this layout is "a place for everything and everything in its place," says Gurney:

The 5S apartment promotes living with less. It was intended the design deliberately place importance on selecting, organizing and caring for one's belongings. The design elevates a seemingly one dimensional space and in doing so, confidently dispels conventional notions surrounding small space living and provides considerable quality of life for the inhabitants.

Gurney's design makes use of these custom-built, extra-deep cabinets, hiding any indication of 'stuff' behind their sleek doors. To really make the most of the storage space, the couple's belongings are classified into varying levels of priority and use and stored accordingly in these cabinets:

Streamlined joinery with carefully considered internal storage allocations prompts devotion to the 5S methodology. The bulk of the joinery is 900 millimetre deep allowing primary objects to be stored at the front and secondary objects at the rear. A significant amount of storage is overhead in areas otherwise void.

The main living space has been kept open here, thanks to a wheeled table that is usually kept under the kitchen counter at the rear, and can be moved around as needed, to make space for when family guests visit.

Katherine Lu© Katherine Lu
Katherine Lu© Katherine Lu

The kitchen has been divided into two separate "wet" and "dry" areas; the "wet" area comprises the sink, which is tucked into an alcove out of view from guests. Here we can also see the perforated screen door that separates the living room from the bedroom, upon which the flatscreen television rests, and which can be folded to allow the couple to watch TV either from the bed or the living room. To the other side, we also see what must be one of the skinniest bookshelves on the planet: no space is wasted here.

Katherine Lu© Katherine Lu
Katherine Lu© Katherine Lu
Katherine Lu© Katherine Lu
Katherine Lu© Katherine Lu

The bathroom is tucked away in one corner of the apartment, covered by a "mirrored sliding door [that] deflects attention from the bathroom and provides a feeling of space and continuation."

Katherine Lu© Katherine Lu
Katherine Lu© Katherine Lu
Katherine Lu© Katherine Lu
Katherine Lu© Katherine Lu

A mere 258 square feet worth of space really isn't much -- but by incorporating flexible, wheeled elements like tables and partitions, and deep cabinets governed by an overarching methodology for organizing 'stuff', a surprising amount of space can be recovered. See more over at Nicholas Gurney.

Tags: Apartments | Small Spaces | Sydney

WHAT'S HOT ON FACEBOOK

treehugger slideshows