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The MIT solution to small-space living

One way to increase density in our cities is to make living units smaller. But this can present problems when you have to fit bathroom, kitchen, sleeping, and living areas in a small space. But a group at MIT has come up with an innovative solution:

The CityHome puts sleeping, bathing, cooking, and living facilities all in one cube that you use gestures to operate. The set up allows you to condense all these in one compact area, freeing up precious floor space in a small apartment.

Steven Yates grew up in Indiana before moving to DC in 2002 to attend college at American University. He currently lives in Southwest DC.  


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So you mean something like what where Bruce Willis lived in the 5th Element?

by nivin on May 30, 2014 3:22 pm • linkreport

Similar shelf beds and tables are already in use in other countries. The only difference here is the wireless Nintendo Wii-esque controller (which I don't think is necessary). Making all of that electronic is an overcomplication. More things to break.

Aside from that, it's not a good idea to have the toilet next to the kitchen space. Many people don't put the toilet seat down before flushing. When that happens, the water sprays up a lot of you-know-what into the air and nearby surfaces. (This is really why more guys should put the toilet seat down. Do you really want that "stuff" on your toothbrush and towels?) In this arrangement, the spray will cover the kitchen too. Yuck.

by Citizen on May 30, 2014 3:33 pm • linkreport

Seems like 200 SF unit or so. That's a bit tight. That size only works, IMHO, in the tiny house movement. The bed typically sits in a loft.

I'm not keen on how the MIT folks envision the bathroom; it seems impractical. But as far as cube's use as a bed, desk and storage, I'd put one in if available. Is there anyone in the DC area that does that kind of work?

by kob on May 30, 2014 4:41 pm • linkreport

A desk isn't really worth much to me if I have to clear everything off of it when I'm finished so that it can retract back into the wall. But that's just me.

by EG on May 30, 2014 4:41 pm • linkreport

Here's a radical thought... what if we... oh man, I hope you guys are sitting down for this... built habitable spaces instead?

Whoa! I know, what an insane thought I'm throwing out here! But the real insane thing is how we fetishize living in a shoebox hovel and hand-wring about "solving" the "problems" associated with packing people in like sardines, when the real solution to all of those problems is to just stop trying.
500sf is perfectly economical, pleasantly urban, great for young singles, and yet plenty of room to fit in all the essentials of a place fit for long-term human habitation. You know, like a proper bathroom.

by Ryan on May 30, 2014 5:42 pm • linkreport

I can see a housemate "oh! I didn't mean to wave my hands in your room!" as everybody gets woken up by party lighting

by asffa on May 31, 2014 11:09 am • linkreport

The tiny house movement is appealing when people plan to place their home in the woods where they'd spend much of their time outdoors. It's sort of glamorous camping.
When you're in a Murphy bed, etc. you're aware that the homeowner has you half out the door, half in as a guest. That's fine at times. If you do this in your own house, it gives the vibe like you don't really mean to stay there long either.

by asffa on May 31, 2014 11:28 am • linkreport

Having a bunch of engineers who will never live in such a place do the designing assures that it will have impractical qualities. This seems like a solution in search of a problem (esp. with the IT gadgets). It probably would help to see how people already manage relatively small spaces and how they might be shrunk further. There's a point where utilities and appliances make shrinking less economically feasible because of the cost per square foot for bathrooms and kitchens relative to anything else. Studios tend to be the last units to get renovations in a condo building because the return on investment is the least.

by Rich on Jun 2, 2014 8:48 am • linkreport

Wait... I've seen this before...

by Bossi on Jun 2, 2014 9:59 am • linkreport

The other place to get ideas for tiny space living is boats, like 36'-40' sailboats.

by Tina on Jun 2, 2014 12:24 pm • linkreport

The Ikea Institute for Flat-Packed Innovations has been engaged in cutting-edge research in this field for years.

by DK on Jun 2, 2014 2:30 pm • linkreport

i suppose you could put the toilet inside the shower area, make the shower larger and design the toilet so it folds up. Bonus is you can capture the grey water for flushing. Many RVs place the toilet inside the shower area.

by patb on Jun 3, 2014 11:48 pm • linkreport

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