While Buenos Aires' architecture is known for its heterogenous and constantly-changing nature, within the city's low density residential sectors, it's possible to detect forms and patterns that have remained constant under the city's many transformations. One of these is the HP, or Horizontal Property, a legal concept that allows for multiple constructions on one lot, resulting in a handful of low-rise structures congregated together in a high-density layout.
Compact living units have become the norm in most big cities across the globe. High density and the value of land in urban areas has made it mandatory for most developments to take full advantage of the buildable area. The result is homes that are increasingly smaller. Hong Kong is probably the most extreme case – with roughly three-quarters of the land preserved, the portion left for housing accommodates more than 7 million people in one of the densest urban environments on Earth.
For centuries, Hutongs have been recognized as one of the most treasured types of vernacular housing in China. Witnessing the cultural and historical transformation in Beijing ever since the Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368), the name Hutong is derived from a Mongolian word that means ‘water well’. In fact, this term was given to small streets that originated during the Yuan Dynasty when the emperor attempted to organize the urban fabric in a grid-like pattern in order to manage properly property ownership and to form an efficient transit system.
Until recently, the origins of the tiny-house movement were of little interest to the scientific community; however, if we take a look at the history of architecture and its connection to the evolution of human lifestyles, we can detect pieces and patterns that paint a clearer picture of the foundations of this movement that has exploded in the last decade as people leave behind the excesses of old and opt for a much more minimalist and flexible way of life.
It is becoming a priority for architects to optimize projects that require increasingly smaller spaces, especially when building in urban areas where land value is often the most critical factor. This happens in countries like Portugal, for example, where urban plots are scarce and the properties available for remodeling are usually very small.
When it comes to attics, we often imagine underused spaces in homes and buildings, such as warehouses or rooms that are exclusively used to shelter infrastructure systems. However, reflecting on the reuse of traditional attics in 19th-century Parisian buildings as housing, which is happening nowadays, one realizes that these spaces can be reinvented and, with a little creativity, they can provide impressive living spaces.
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.