Architect reinvents apartment to solve space crunch

Mon Feb 8, 2010 10:00am EST
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By James Pomfret

HONG KONG (Reuters Life!) - As a youngster living in a tiny flat with six others in one of the world's most densely populated cities, Hong Kong architect Gary Chang has been obsessed by living space, or rather a chronic lack of it.

After three decades in the same boxy, 32-square-meter (344 sq ft) dwelling he grew up in, Chang has come up with an innovative answer to the increasingly cramped lives of many urban dwellers -- the science fiction-like "domestic transformer."

"The idea is everything is moving. This is my laundry space," Chang told Reuters, sliding away a wall filled with CDs to reveal a washing machine and dryer.

By sliding another track-mounted metal wall that bears a plasma TV, a kitchen materialized. Beside that, there is a luxurious 1.9-meter bathtub that itself turns into a guest bed.

While people in other teeming cities such as Tokyo resort to drop-down beds and foldable futons, the award-winning Chang has taken the concept of space-saving to the extreme.

His tiny rectangular apartment, tucked into the bowels of an old, nondescript tenement building, has polished chrome walls that bear 24 configurations, each suiting a specific need.

The space available becomes a home theater, spa, kitchen, bedroom, chill-out zone rigged up with a hammock, depending on what Chang needs at any moment.

"The high intensity of use makes (it) more like a large home appliance than a dwelling," wrote Chang in his book "32 meter square apartment - a 30-year transformation" that chronicles the origins of his innovative abode, which has undergone numerous facelifts through the years.   Continued...

<p>Hong Kong architect Gary Chang rests in a hammock inside his 32-square-metre apartment in Hong Kong, January 28, 2010. REUTERS/Bobby Yip</p>