Working from home comes with a flexible schedule, not to mention savings on travel costs, and you can be closer to family. But distractions can make working from home inefficient. It becomes critical to separate the spaces used for living from the ones used for working. Building an addition is, in most cases, the perfect solution.
The field of architecture has the potential to influence human relations in countless ways through the built space. In small-scale projects, in particular, the challenges of tackling the dialogue between the space and the individual are combined with the task of conveying ideas to inspire people to explore the use of these minimal spaces.
An emerging design trend is filling the gap between furniture and architecture by shaping space through objects at the intersection of the two, creating a dynamic and highly adaptable environment. Either a consequence of the increased demand for flexibility in small spaces or the architectural expression of a device-oriented society, elements in between architecture and furniture open the door towards an increased versatility of space. Neither architecture nor furniture (or perhaps both), these objects operate at the convergence of the two scales of human interaction, carving a new design approach for interior living spaces.
At the 2014 Venice Biennale, celebrated architect and curator Rem Koolhaas chose an unusual curatorial theme. Rather than exploring the major issues that plague modern society or their manifestations in the profession of architecture, the event's theme, "Fundamentals," and its main exhibition, "Elements of Architecture," examined in detail the bare fundamentals of buildings, simple elements used by everyday architects for everyday designs. According to Koolhaas, “Architecture is a profession trained to put things together, not to dismantle them. Only by looking at the elements of architecture under a microscope can we recognize cultural preferences, technological advances, changes triggered by the intensification of global exchange, climatic adaptations, local norms and, somewhere in the mix, the architect's ideas that constitute the practice of architecture today.”
According to the United Nation’s “The World’s Cities in 2018”, it is estimated that, “by 2030, urban areas are projected to house 60 percent of people globally and one in every three people will live in cities with at least half a million inhabitants.” Also, between 2018 and 2030, it is estimated that the number of cities with 500,000 inhabitants or more is expected to grow by 23 percent in Asia. China, as the largest economy in Asia, with a GDP (PPP) of $25.27 trillion, is expanding rapidly, both economically and demographically.
In all cities around the world, there are some forms of residual space, forgotten pieces of the urban fabric, remnants of overlapping layers of past development. This land whose conditions make it unsuitable for most types of conventional construction might be a fertile ground for architectural invention. Assigning a new value to vacant corner lots, dead-end alleys and strangely shaped plots opens up a new field of opportunities for inward urban development, expanding available living space and increasing amenities in densely populated cities. The following explores the potential for experiment and urban activation held by urban leftover space.
In residential architecture, there have always been central, indispensable spaces and peripheral spaces more easy to ignore. When designing a home, the task of the architect is essentially to configure, connect, and integrate different functions in the most efficient way possible, necessarily prioritizing some spaces over others. And although today many are designing in ways that are increasingly fluid and indeterminate, we could say that the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen are the fundamental nucleus of every house, facilitating rest, food preparation, and personal hygiene. Then meeting spaces and other service areas appear, and with them lobbies, corridors, and stairs to connect them. Each space guides new functions, allowing its inhabitants to perform them in an easier and more comfortable way.
The issue of the housing deficit plagues virtually all countries today. According to a study by the McKinsey Global Institute, 330 million urban families worldwide lack decent housing, or housing costs are so heavy that they need to forgo other basic needs such as food, heath care, and education for children. According to the WRI (World Resources Institute), it is estimated that 1.6 billion people will lack adequate housing by the year 2025.
London/Malta-based Mizzi Studio, led by founder Jonathan Mizzi, are at the forefront of the growing trend of micro-architecture. As exemplified by their recent commission for the design of nine kiosks across London’s Royal Parks, the firm has a passion for the fusion of craft and technology, and in particular, the large, invisible forces of economy, sustainability, and psychology that converge on such small spaces and structures.
Netflix has published a new show on its streaming service on the subject of tiny houses. “Tiny House Nation” follows renovation experts John Weisbarth and Zack Giffin across America, as they help design and construct tiny homes in spaces under 500 square feet. The seven episodes from the 2014-2017 series feature homeowners from all walks of life, from Florida to Hawaii, seeking to join a Tiny Houses Movement that prioritizes smart living.