Taking Nod from Tiny Houses, Manhattan, Hong Kong Apartments Go Modular

garychangFrom Hong Kong to Manhattan, creative interior designers and architects are finding revolutionary ways to make the most out of itty bitty living spaces. As reported by the futurist website iO9, Gary Chang, a well-known designer living in Hong Kong, lives in a home that, by Western standards, is tiny. A 344-sq. ft. apartment is standard if you’re living in Manhattan, for example, but at best, that space has a tiny bathroom, a kitchenette, and a place to put your head at night.

Chang’s apartment has 24 rooms.

The secret lies in the apartment’s transformable design. Using sliding panels, a modern take on the Murphy bed, a wall that functions as a projection screen for TV, and a number of other space-saving technologies, Chang has access to a bathroom, living room, washroom, kitchen, library, and more — again, in 344 sq. ft. of living space. Similar spaces are popping up in London, Manhattan, and San Francisco.

Many of the design features were inspired by the increasingly popular tiny homes movement. A growing number of Americans are taking to building homes between 200 and 800-sq ft in size, in hopes of protecting the environment and avoiding lifelong debt. Using sliding panels, recessed tables, and other tech, these tiny homes have three to four rooms at most. Gary Chang’s apartment takes the best of these features and improves upon them, fleshing out tiny home techniques into something that’s straight out of science fiction.

“With proper planning and creative interior design, it’s possible to make even the smallest of spaces seem larger,” says Gary Kapner of Creative Wall Coverings.

Rents Continue to Rise, Vacancies Increasingly Scarce

Both the tiny homes movement and the arrival of transformable apartments are a result of a growing need for cheap living spaces in a world that increasingly lacks enough space for everyone. The Wall Street Journal reports that through 2013, rents climbed by 3.2%, while vacancies dropped sharply to only 4.1% in Q4 2013. Average apartment rents across the country have continued to grow through 2014.

While not widespread yet, transformable apartment technology could serve as a solution, both to the issues of space and cost. Apartments that take up less space, depending on the city and the neighborhood, are generally lower cost, and with rooms that transform into everything you’d expect in a much larger space, renters would no longer have to sacrifice quality of life to afford city living. Admittedly, that potential future remains a long way off.

What do you think about the trend towards transformable living spaces? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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