Space is both a resource and a commodity. On a planet with over seven billion people, the majority of whom live in teeming megacities, land is at a premium. The private home is central to our lives. Previous generations used to dream about suburbia, but in the 90s city centers became more and more livable and thus far more expensive. With increasing rental costs many people faced a dilemma that has given birth to a movement of compact living. If you are able to live in a smaller home, then your rental costs will be lower. Each and every square meter counts. Renting or owning a smaller space means you need to earn less money, which results in the possibility of working fewer hours and having more time available. In other words, the luxury of time is a value that can replace the luxury of space if you are willing to live in a smaller, more compact home.
But how can we have a good standard of living in a small amount of space?
Learning from Japan
Privacy in this part of the world is often only ensured through visual separation. Essentially, an entire family can live in one open space, as long as they can withdraw to a place where they cannot be seen by one another. Another interesting phenomenon in Japan is the multifunctionality of rooms that is made possible when furniture is reduced to a minimum.
Learning from Scandinavia
In Scandinavia, the “conversation kitchen,” or samtalekokken was established, a freestanding island unit, which acts as a central hub where friends and family socialize together. The main division of a home occurs between the small, private rooms and the large communal space.
Learning from the Alps
In traditional alpine chalets a massive oven is situated at the heart of the chalet, providing heat for living and cooking. The mass of the oven accumulates and radiates warmth for many hours after it has been heated. Bedrooms on the level above the massive oven can benefit from the warmth generated below through small openings.
Homes are not necessarily the product of a large building contractor, but rather the creative work of private individual architects. If more citizens would participate in initiating the construction of needed homes, we could take advantage of narrow spaces between buildings, courtyards, or add structures above the endless acres of flat roofs to create a high-quality, sustainable life for ourselves, and to actively participate in creating it.
Find even more aspects and ideas around the concept of Thinking Big by Living Small in our recent release Small Homes, Grand Living.
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