Hong Kong-based architects LAAB describes the city as "one of the most expensive places in the world to live." So keen were one couple to live in the city's Central district, though, they bought a 309-sq ft (29-sq m) apartment and had LAAB squeeze in a host of full-size features.
The Small Home Smart Home is one of a growing number of small apartments with space-saving designs that can allow the residents to avoid having to pay for larger accommodation or live in an area that might otherwise be out of their price range. ICOSA's Domino Loft and the University of British Columbia's new Nano suites are two other recent examples of this.
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"Central is the heart of Hong Kong, really, and we couldn't imagine living anywhere else," explain Small Home Smart Home apartment owners Michelle Tennant and Andy Knight. "Because we wanted to leave in Central, we had to buy somewhere that was small."
The couple went on to interview a number of designers, with a view to finding a way to fit all the things they wanted into a space that seemed impossibly small. These included a large kitchen, large bathtub, home cinema, gym facilities and cat-friendly features. Only LAAB is said to have been able to deliver what was required and did so using what it calls a "form follows time" philosophy.
This approach sees the design of the Small Home Smart Home apartment put together not only using its three-dimensional space, but using the fourth dimension of time as well. The apartment is able to transform based on the time of day, with features brought into and out of use as required.
One area of the apartment, for example, can take the form of a bathroom with a bathtub, two separate bathroom spaces, a second tier of home-cinema seating or a guest bedroom. Elsewhere, the design uses moveable walls, roll-down partitions, motorized drop-down cupboards and hidden under-floor storage.
Many of the features in the apartment are to be used temporarily and so must be stored efficiently. Items like the 4K curved TV, the dining table and the make-up table are able to be hidden away flat to save space and to keep the place neat and spacious.
Having managed to incorporate all of the aspects needed by the clients, LAAB also had to include features for their three cats. These included a cat walkway around the ceiling, a cat ladder, a litter box hidden beneath the bathroom sink, food trays hidden within the kitchen cabinets and a hidden den in which the cats can relax.
Beyond the physical design of the apartment, some app-controlled smart home technologies were also included. Philips Hue bulbs, for example, allow the mood of the apartment to be altered depending on time of day or activity, and an August smart lock allows not only the residents to come and go easily, but for access to be provided to friends when required as well.
LAAB says that, in order to achieve the multifunctional nature of the apartment, a great deal of experimentation was required and over 30 design iterations were produced. In addition, the final design was said to have a tolerance of just 3 mm (0.12 in) in places.
The Small Home Smart Home apartment was started in 2014 and completed last year, but LAAB has only just published details.
The video below provides a look at the Small Home Smart Home.