14 February 2020

Maximising Small Spaces

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The United Kingdom has been handed the name ‘rabbit hutch Britain’. This is meant to refer to the significantly smaller sized properties in the UK when compared to the rest of Europe. This is because Britain has no legal minimum size requirements for houses. Smaller sized properties, studio apartments, and small two-bed flats are now being favoured to stay within price constraints. With more and more people living in cities and trying to keep costs low, architects are faced with the challenge of finding inventive ways to maximise small spaces.

With smaller spaces being on the rise, and more affordable, knowing how to best utilise your smaller spaces is key. Read below for our top tips, as well as a case study on how a housing project is attempting to tackle Hong Kong’s housing crisis

Top Tips for Maximising Smaller Spaces:

  1. Light – keeping your space light and bright is key. To do this, paint the walls white and make use of both natural and artificial light. The use of mirrors within the property can reflect the natural or artificial light that you have, whilst glass doors to connect spaces will give the room a more open feeling.
  2. Furniture – larger but fewer! Whilst it may seem logical to stick with smaller furnishings in a smaller space, larger and oversized furniture creates the illusion of a larger space. However, keep this to a minimum and reduce clutter.
  3. Stack up – to create the illusion of taller ceilings it’s important to maximise walls pace and utilise vertical space for storage and display artwork above eye-level
  4. Vignettes – section off different spaces either using colour or the design of your floor plan
  5. Multi-purpose – multi-purpose and adaptable furnishings and storage can help space feel less cluttered whilst remaining efficient.

Housing Crisis:

The ‘OPod Tube Housing Project’ has designed an experimental answer to the current housing crisis facing Hong Kong. By transforming 2.5 metre-wide water pipes into 9.29 square-metre homes to slot in between city buildings. Yes, that’s right! The transformed concrete pipes are aimed toward young people or students within Hong Kong who struggle to afford private housing. The prototype pictured below facilitates for living, cooking and bathing. The interior walls are whitewashed, with a multi-functional bench-seat/bed in the living area. The water pipe also has the space for a mini-fridge, microwave cooker, clothes rail and storage stand. A bathroom has been screened off with a shower and toilet. To keep the area feeling light, there is a fully glazed front door/window panel and lighting strips and lamps throughout the living space.

James Law, who founded the studio, sees these water-pipe housing facilities as tackling the rising population, high accommodation demand and increasing property prices crisis by creating affordable starter homes in vacant city-centre locations.