Architecture

MIT's CityHome project re-thinks small space versatility

MIT's CityHome project re-thin...
The CityHome project solves typical spatial issues with hidden amenities controlled by hand gestures, interactive touch elements and voice commands
The CityHome project solves typical spatial issues with hidden amenities controlled by hand gestures, interactive touch elements and voice commands
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The CityHome project solves typical spatial issues with hidden amenities controlled by hand gestures, interactive touch elements and voice commands
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The CityHome project solves typical spatial issues with hidden amenities controlled by hand gestures, interactive touch elements and voice commands
The team has also applied gestural commands to the lighting and window covering system so that residents can adjust the ambiance in the room as needed
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The team has also applied gestural commands to the lighting and window covering system so that residents can adjust the ambiance in the room as needed
The CityHome project also features concealable countertops and cooking surfaces
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The CityHome project also features concealable countertops and cooking surfaces
Touch controlled surfaces allow the CityHome unit to move back and forth a few feet, thus freeing up space in either the bathroom area or living room
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Touch controlled surfaces allow the CityHome unit to move back and forth a few feet, thus freeing up space in either the bathroom area or living room
Touch controlled surfaces allow the CityHome unit to move back and forth a few feet, thus freeing up space in either the bathroom area or living room
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Touch controlled surfaces allow the CityHome unit to move back and forth a few feet, thus freeing up space in either the bathroom area or living room
The concept of providing a versatile living space for those crammed into undersized accommodations has great potential
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The concept of providing a versatile living space for those crammed into undersized accommodations has great potential
The CityHome not only reveals a hidden dining table for six, but also additional concealed seating
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The CityHome not only reveals a hidden dining table for six, but also additional concealed seating
The CityHome unit is designed to transform smaller spaces into larger more usable rooms by concealing key items like a desk, bed, dining room table, etc.
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The CityHome unit is designed to transform smaller spaces into larger more usable rooms by concealing key items like a desk, bed, dining room table, etc.
The CityHome wall unit stows a bed, dining room table, kitchen and range, plus a closet, and a work station
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The CityHome wall unit stows a bed, dining room table, kitchen and range, plus a closet, and a work station
CityHome project would let users bring the hide-a-bed out at night and slide back into the unit during the day
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CityHome project would let users bring the hide-a-bed out at night and slide back into the unit during the day
The bed can be drawn out of its hiding space using predetermined hand gestures
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The bed can be drawn out of its hiding space using predetermined hand gestures
The CityHome project solves typical spatial issues through hidden amenities controlled by hand gestures, interactive touch elements and voice commands
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The CityHome project solves typical spatial issues through hidden amenities controlled by hand gestures, interactive touch elements and voice commands
Drawing shows the CityHome unit in its neutral position with no hidden amenities extended
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Drawing shows the CityHome unit in its neutral position with no hidden amenities extended
Drawing shows the unit moved towards the bathroom to allow the concealed 6-person dining table to be extended
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Drawing shows the unit moved towards the bathroom to allow the concealed 6-person dining table to be extended
The CityHome unit also features a concealed work station that slides out and frees up space when not needed
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The CityHome unit also features a concealed work station that slides out and frees up space when not needed

For many residents today, the idea of fitting furniture into a 600 sq ft (56 sq m) condo or apartment has become a compact reality. Now a team from MIT’s architectural program have come up with the CityHome project; a versatile appliance-like solution, designed to increase usable space by two or three times.

The adaptable CityHome project works to help solve the timeless spatial problem of "How do you configure the dining room in your micro-space so guests don’t have to sit at a work station during supper?"

The CityHome project also features concealable countertops and cooking surfaces
The CityHome project also features concealable countertops and cooking surfaces

The concept is relatively simple: condense all the necessary amenities, such as the bed, entertainment unit, counters, work space, cooking unit and range, furniture storage, etc. into one transformable wall system. Looking like an intricate Italian kitchen unit, the CityHome project from MIT's Kent Larson and Hasier Larrea not only solves the typical spatial issues associated with tiny condos and apartments, but does so via interactive touch elements, hand gestures, and voice control.

Internal motors connected to command units silently move out units selected by predetermined hand gestures (presumably registered by the control system using built-in cameras), so no physical effort is required. One gesture could, for example, draw the bed out of its space. Another instructs it to return to its original position, and then a work desk can be moved out (which also doubles as a dining table for six).

The team has also applied gestural commands to the lighting system, so that residents can adjust the ambiance in any area of the room as needed, and for control of the window blinds.

The CityHome not only reveals a hidden dining table for six, but also additional concealed seating
The CityHome not only reveals a hidden dining table for six, but also additional concealed seating

Touch sensors on either side of the modular unit control additional motors that can move it across the room a few feet in either direction. The shifting ability allows for users to expand the main living/sleeping/entertaining space, while reducing the size of the bathroom, or vice versa.

From a functional and ergonomic perspective, the bathroom, toilet and shower arrangement clearly needs further consideration. But the concept of providing a versatile living space for those crammed into undersized accommodations definitely has potential.

Larson's group is currently working on a plan to bring the CityHome to production, either through crowdfunding or through a sponsorship arrangement.

To see the CityHome unit in action, check out the video below.

Source: MIT Media

MIT Media Lab CityHome: What if 200 ft2 could be 3x larger?

11 comments
Daishi
The floorplan reminds me of the Aloft hotel rooms where the headboard of the bed serves as a wall for the sink area. Aloft is one of the only hotel rooms I have been in where I felt like the room was designed by engineers instead of interior decorators. There is a vid someone took of one of the rooms here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qom8wzRRvA One of the things Aloft does right in their floorplan is they have a mirror door between the sink area and the toilet/shower. This allows the sink area to serve 2 functions without being in the bathroom so someone using the shower doesn't prevent someone else from doing makeup/brushing teeth etc. Another thing Aloft gets mostly right (for a hotel) is they omit a lot of useless dresser space that often serves as storage space for a single bible that is still done as some kind of 1800's superstition or something and replaces it with room to set and store luggage. I always find it strange when I walk into a hotel room with no place other than the floor or the other bed to set my luggage. Another cool thing about their design is the little media box you can use to charge electronics (AC, USB etc.) or drive the TV from a laptop or Netflix streamer (useful for people who travel like this http://i.imgur.com/vZKCLLA.jpg ). Even though it's a hotel room it's one of the better small space designs I have seen. It's not posh but I feel like aside from a flatter TVs most hotel rooms probably haven't really evolved in 50+ years.
BigGoofyGuy
I think that is a really neat idea. It gives more space and utility where there space is at a premium. Perhaps there could be a non-motorized version so people could use their muscles (exercise) to change things? It could also lower the price too. I think it could also be used for small houses too. One could build a one room house and put it inside. I have seen (online) some really small houses that this would be perfect for.
VirtualGathis
Am I the only one who thought of Fith Element and Corbin's apartment?
Kris Lee
Their website http://cp.media.mit.edu/research/67-cityhome is not available.
The Skud
The idea seems to need a bit of work yet, but has hope. Don't really like the hand guestures though, what if someone is reclining on the bed and another waves? Does he/she disappear into the module, like the old sitcom joke of the Murphy Bed folding back into the wardrobe? And what happens to the plates etc. on the 'dining table' if the wrong move is made? The possibilities for disaster are endless . . .
Conny Söre
Nice but the big issue is that wastewater somehow has to be led out of the moving box. I'm sure that can be solved but to me a failure in those mechanics seems to be a big and expensive risk.
Aloysius
Good idea, even if it's too over complicated by the sensors and hand gestures. The only drawback is the workstation; I'd rather have a design where I don't have clear out my computer, papers, books, etc. just to stop and sip my soylent :-)
Gargamoth
It's a sad and cramped future. Feeling closter phobic. Definitely Fifth element(Bruce Willis scifi.movie) influence.
Andrej Radoš
Yess, the speaking tools that constitute the 99% has to be stored somewhere when not at work as the rich indulge themself in multiple mansions scattered around the world.
John Barnhart
The sliding sinks seem problematic to me. They would require flexible drains.