( source : http://jacksgap.com/genius-apartment-design/)
Here comes Graham Hill, CEO of Treehugger, a company devoted to inform people about ethics and ecology. A good fellow then. G. Hill decided to arrange (with the help of two romanian architects, Catalin Sandu and Adrian Iancu, sparsely named, as are all architects when it comes to talk about their projects) a small 350 sqft studio, in order to achieve 8 rooms, as the article pompously claims.
Folding bed, moving wall, folding desk, telescopic table, retractable guest beds, the whole folding home catalogue is fitted in there. I remember a short comic sketch by Sempé, which depicted the day of a guy in a totally modulable studio. He folded his bed, then opened his desk, then his kitchen, and as the sun went down, in the evening, he opened a cupboard, where he could find…his wife !
Sempé had pinned it. The foldable environment doesn’t change anything to our lifestyle, which is just the « bourgeois » lifestyle in a more nuclear form. These apparently revolutionnary fittings only aim to concentrate that lifestyle into an ever shrinkening surface, avoiding to question it.
Kitchen, bathroom, dining room, guest rooms, in G. Hill’s social environment, everybody owns each of these functions, even if they serve only sparsely. But that’s where the waste happens : less social involvement and more nuisances, as every energy and space-consuming activities are individualized.
In the big chinese cities, few flats have a kitchen, simply because most inhabitants buy their prepared food to local shops around the corner. In Switzerland, most buildings have their common laundry. It’s that much space and energy spared for the flats. Some university residences also have common kitchens.
A real dwelling revolution would be to mutualize, hybridize, split, these functions, based on two criterias : usage time and intimacy. This could be the subject for a whole article, so let’s carry on the critic.
On a functionnal plan, the folding furniture also has lots of counterparts. You can’t use that much functions at the same time. If G. Hill needs to produce some hard work, he can’t spread his folders on the desk, let his laptop on and out, let some clothes on a chair, unless he wants his studio to look very messy. Plus, for a modulable space, it’s actually very little evolutive. Every change in the configuration (as you could move a bed or a chest of drawers in traditionnal furniture), would cost lots of woodwork.
This conception is as a matter of fact the result of two opposed constraints. On one side, you have the bourgeois lifestyle, and on the other, you have a real estate market, structured by years of unbalanced urban planning(?), leaving you the choice between room and urbanity.