'Smart' Micro-Housing for Swedish Students Gets High Marks in Affordability

Photos: Tengbom Architecture/Bertil Hertzberg.

As college students across the country settle into their charmingly decorated holding pens dorm rooms, here’s a quick look at an on-campus housing option that will be available to students enrolled at Lund University in southern Sweden when the 2014 academic year rolls around.

Designed by lauded Swedish architectural firm Tengbum in collaboration with wood purveyor Martinsons, real estate company AF Bostäder, and current students from Lund University, “Smart Student Units” are freestanding wooden dwellings with a decidedly petite footprint of a mere 108 square feet. Not exactly palatial, yes, but the units, which received legal consent to drop below the 269 square feet (10 square meters) required by Swedish building code for habitable spaces, manage to squeeze a whole lot in — an elevated sleeping loft, kitchenette, bathroom, dining area, and small back garden/patio — without seeming cramped or dungeon-like thanks to plenty of natural light and multipurpose design features including shelves that double as steps to the loft and a dining table/desk that functions as window shutter.

While clever design tricks makes the most efficient use of a minimal amount of space, the units are probably not the best location for a post-finals rager with 20 of your favorite classmates. However, as a comfortable and quiet place to study, snack, and sleep, you couldn’t really ask for much more. Plus, there’s the added bonus of not having to share space with potentially sociopathic and/or slovenly roommates or having to waddle down the hall in flip-flops to use the facilities. The cost, 50 percent less than student housing rates, leaves plenty of cash leftover for textbooks, instant ramen, and six-packs of Sofiero lager.

As you can see from the photos of the prototype unit, cross-laminated wood is the primary building material.

Tengbom explains the motivation for the heavy use of timber:

Through an efficient layout and the use of cross laminated wood as a construction material the rent is reduced by 50% and the ecological impact and carbon footprints is also significantly reduced. Energy efficiency is a key issue when designing new buildings. Choosing right material and manufacturing methods is vital to minimize the carbon emission and therefore wood was chosen for its carbon positive qualities, and as a renewable resource it can be sourced locally to minimize transportation. The manufacturer method was chosen because of is flexible production and for its assembling technique which can be done on site to reduce construction time.

In total, 22 of these smart wooden huts will be constructed and become available to a lucky group of Lund University students. One would hope that the exteriors of each will be outfitted with some type of distinguishing feature so that exhausted undergrads don’t accidentally stumble into the wrong unit at the end of a long day.

A prototype unit will be open to the public at Virserum Art Museum in Småland (the Swedish province, not the crèche/ball pit hellhole found at a certain Swedish furniture retailer) as part of a special exhibition on, you guessed it, wood. The exhibition runs through December 8.

Speaking to Gizmag, Tengbom’s Karin Bodin hints that while the smart units – an “attractive alernative” to traditional student housing — are strictly a student-affair at the moment, other uses are possible: " ... with small changes it can be used as a guest house, office or hotel room," she says.

Via [Designboom], [Gizmag]