Tiny homes are gaining traction in North America, but in many places like the metropolitan centres of Europe and Asia, small living spaces are the norm, rather than an oddity. That's the case with this insertion of an L-shaped sliver of a home in Beijing between an existing hutong wall and a two-storey building. It's now one of the many human-scaled residences in Beijing's hutong neighbourhoods, known for their density and laid-back atmosphere. Once facing demolition to make way for newer, bigger buildings, some hutongs are now being preserved for their historical character.
Shown over at ArchDaily and done by Beijing-based studio B.L.U.E. Architecture, the addition of shifting walls and convertible furnishings helps to enlarge the 462 square feet that's shared between six family members.
One of the first design strategies was to bring light in. By creating a fully glazed front entry that can also hinge and open up, a sense of spaciousness is achieved. Along the full spine of one curving wall, a skylight traces a path overhead, illuminating and enlarging the spaces below. The interior layout has private spaces for each family member, but the common spaces are inspired by how hutongs encourage social interaction. Even the skylit corridor, which links all the private spaces together, is envisioned as an extension of the outside neighbourhood coming in.
Within the private spaces, there are moveable walls that can be pushed around to create more space. Beds can be compressed to form a sofa, or a table can expand for dinner; furniture is made to adapt to whatever the needs of the moment are, whether they are sleeping, eating, working or interacting with family members, or closing off one's private space.
Similar to B.L.U.E. Architecture's previous project renovating an existing hutong home, there's lots of built-in storage in the walls, stairs and under the beds to keep visual clutter to a minimum. To save space, an alternating-tread stair is used, though we are not sure what exactly is underneath these flip-up stairs (seating? a hiding place for the prepper in the family? We have no idea).
Upstairs, the children get their own spaces to sleep and play in, with the addition of netting and soft carpets to make it feel more inviting and stimulating.
The overlapping, well-lit spaces here really do feel much more interconnected and vital than your regular cookie-cutter suburban home, which has everyone isolated in their rooms and where common spaces feel empty and disconnected. Yes, there might be less privacy here, but that may be a good thing if the priority is cultivating closeness within a family. More over at ArchDaily and B.L.U.E. Architecture.