HN Theater @HNTheaterMonth

The best talks and videos of Hacker News.

Hacker News Comments on
Hong Kong architect turns shoebox apartment into 24 rooms

pangjin · Youtube · 223 HN points · 2 HN comments
HN Theater has aggregated all Hacker News stories and comments that mention pangjin's video "Hong Kong architect turns shoebox apartment into 24 rooms".
Youtube Summary
Find out how an award-winning Hong Kong architect has managed to squeeze 24 rooms - including a home cinema and ''spa'' - into 344 square feet of apartment space.
HN Theater Rankings

Hacker News Stories and Comments

All the comments and stories posted to Hacker News that reference this video.
Not really techy but, inspired by, I've always thought it would be interesting to suspend beds, tables and storage to the ceiling and then have a (rope+pullyy) system to only put the furniture in a room that you are actually using; freeing up the other space to walk/work/lie down. Plus it's probably real easy to keep clean.
As I posted in that thread, I live in 150 square feet (by necessity).

I agree that the Hong Kong solution is very cool (I love the hammock) (direct video link: ).

My version is having to move the computer desk that's in front of the wardrobe, having a bunk bed that turns into a double bed, and moving the couch when I want to go to the bathroom (also very cramped with the toilet in the shower stall).

Of the houses depicted in the article, I liked "Penguin House" the best - the others are just not sunny enough - what's with modern architects' disdain of large windows and balconies...

I'm still amazed that the housing boom hasn't exploded in Uruguay (it's bizarre that housing is cheaper in most of the United States than in Montevideo - ok, NY and Silicon Valley excluded). The arcane government regulations and heavy taxing of for-profit development is really weighing us down (end rant).

Apr 26, 2010 · 223 points, 53 comments · submitted by newsit

</Obligatory Fifth Element Quote!>

I highly recommend a hammock to anyone that is wanting to save space. I slept in one for 2+ years, and haven't found anything as comfortable since. It takes a little while to get used to, but it's great for your back - despite what you may think.

Also, with all that pushing and pulling it doubles as fitness center.
This is incredibly cool.

Of course, you'd have to put stuff back in its proper place every time otherwise the system would quickly break down.

Very cool indeed. Too bad you will need a lot of money to create a home like that -- i imagine it'd cost at least 10 grand to renovate a home like that, and countless hours of hardware hacking :)
If you ever are in a place where $/sq ft is a metric you look at when shopping for real estate, those expensive remodels become smart economic tradeoffs. For instance, if you're looking at a range of $300/sq ft, then getting rid of an entertainment center gives you 6 extra sq ft and you have $1800 to put towards a flat screen TV.
Not sure where you live, but in Australia, to do that properly (custom-build most things, the tracks, installation, etc) you'd be looking at $50k+. I recently got quoted close to $10k just for a kitchen benchtop and this guys place has all sorts of custom services and installations.
True. Although with HK property prices I imagine that it's quite a good deal.
And you better don't forget someone being in another room ;)
That's what I thought when I saw the guest bed in the bathroom.

(Incidentally, I have a friend who calls a jar in a spare room his "downstairs bathroom". I guess you can "install" a "downstairs bathroom" when you have a guest over...)

Here is a book by Gary Chang on the same topic, sounds like it touches on the 30 year history of the apartment itself:

Intriguing as it is brilliant, architect Gary Changs 30 year-long project involves a continual experiment with his small apartment in a Hong Kong building block. Partly biographical though the way that it documents specific changes, needs and desires, it is also an ongoing study of what he calls the extreme conditions of Tight-Space a global phenomenon in which increasingly people live in high-density, hyper-urbanised environments. Photographs of various stages of the apartment are presented throughout and accompanied by plans, sketches, writings and observations.

Hah... he thinks 32m2 is small? Try 16m2 (I'm sadly actually living in a 16m2 right now)
He grew up in the same apartment with his parents, three sisters, and a tenant.
That's probably unbeatable :) (ok, short of India probably, and I don't want to try and beat it).
The like and worse happens in the US all the time. Some migrant workers live in higher densities.
When I first saw this title I thought it would be talking about cage homes, e.g.:

I was happily surprised to find something much cooler.

Its definitely a great little place, although I think it would be unbelievably cooler if the sliding rooms were automated/motorized in some way.

Just imagine it, you "leave" a room so it starts to pack itself up and depending on which way you turn, it starts to unpack the other room, giving it more of a organic freeflowing form.

Yeah, although if it was motorized you'd go to sleep one night and wake up sandwiched between the bathroom and the library the next morning thanks to a bug in the software.
Or the next McAfee update ;-)
A lot of libraries I've seen in universities have mechanized sliding shelves. They have sensors to ensure that if something is in between them, they won't close. Still though, it's easy to imagine someone getting crushed by their bed because a sleepy programmer made an off-by-one error at 4am. Guess I should probably go to bed...
The systems they use for controlling the doors of trains and buses seem quite forgiving. (At least in western Europe. Turkish door closers seem more determined.)
Commentary on the New York Times article posted last year:
Life imitates 1938 Disney--cool that someone finally got it right; I wonder if he can modularize and sell his system. (
And Disney imitates 1920 Buster Keaton.

This could only work for people living on their own. What's gona happen if one person wants to watch tv and another wants to shower? Also the tinted windows would get very annoying after like 1 day, they would make you feel sleepy. Very cool design though.
This is a great example of someone embracing constraints and thinking of creative solutions.
Article in the times this weekend about a similarly sized (though differently decorated) apartment in manhattan.
You would think they would choose a color other than yellow for the windows since it just makes the Hong Kong haze look worse... Or perhaps the windows aren't tinted...
It makes the HK have look good, actually.
Somewhat reminds me of the small house movement in the states:
It would be interesting to try this concept out on liveaboard boats. They have much the same problems of not enough space.
I think if you did that you might end up with problems with weight distribution, depending on where the walls were. You could end up trying to walk around a boat tilted over at 30 degrees from the weight :)
That was my fist concern as well :-) It could probably be solved with proper fasteners and thinking about weight distribution though. Moving heavy stuff from port to starboard might be a problem but moving stuff from front to back not so much.
Port/starboard in a trimaran might work, but maybe having a lot of weight on one side would affect the dynamics... You might end up with a boat that only sails in circles :)
Or possibly clever counterweighting under the floor, if you have the floor space. Old-school mechanical linkage might not work very well (too complicated to get right, probably), but a few sensors and actuators could do the job very well, or I suppose as much as it offends my computer nature a manual level somewhere could work too. (But soooo much less cool.) I don't think this could solve the entire problem, you'd still have to consider weight distribution, but it would free you up a bit. Trying to do something like this involves enough constraints as it is, anything you can do to relax them will help.
Simple mechanical systems that solve interesting problems are far more elegant in my mind than a computerized version. :)
Some sort of Gyroscope might appeal to both your sensibilities?
Can a gyroscope in this situation prevent tipping, or does it merely slow it down? Honest question. Possibly even just slowing it down a lot would be sufficient since other forces could be brought into play to stabilize the boat.
Gyroscopes can only slow it down (considerably, sometimes), not prevent it. It could definitely make it easier to detect / rectify though, yes.
I think you guys are putting way too many obstacles in the path. I live on a boat and I just moved a waterheater (~120 kilos) from port to starboard and it didn't make much of a difference on the waterline of the boat.
Yeah, I thought as much as well. It was said more in jest. I know a guy who put tonnes (3 or 4 I think) of slate tiling in his stern end and it only dropped it down half a foot or so in the water. Narrow boats usually have a flat bottom and weigh a huge amount, so they are pretty resillient... still, gyroscopes are interesting
Depends on how many things you'd want to link to a few counterweights. A few rfids on some objects and a couple of readers for positioning could do all the linking work you need.
Four linked ballast water tanks (Port Aft, Port Front, Starboard Aft, Starboard front) with pumps between them would probably be sufficient and would be much easier to place and maintain than other moving counterweights.
Yeah, your idea is much cooler than mine.
The problem with something like this in a boat is that there is very little square space on a boat. You can't stack wall quite the same because a wall that's flush with the hull in one spot is banging up against it or hanging loose in another spot. Like another poster said, Most of these really clever uses of space you see showcased like this require a well shaped starting space.
He redefines the IKEA zen.
Hey I just tweeted this the other day!

The most difficult thing that I find about many of the really cool tiny apartment layouts is that it is REALLY hard to replicate similar in poorly laid out apartments. I could do wonders with a square 300sq/ft apartment, but some of the apartments we have here in Boston have such weird layouts (pipes in random places, poorly placed doors & windows, strange walls sticking out randomly) that it makes it really hard to do.

This is highly inspirational however.

Even a somewhat limited space optimization would benefit small apartment dwellers tremendously. Just do one mode switch for entertainment/office and another for bedroom/bath.

I bet such a scheme could be mass produced.

This is a lie that I think is told in every IKEA showroom. 300 square feet is rather functional given the space is well laid out i.e. long and narrow without much obstructing the walls.

The trouble is, it's difficult to find an ideal small space. I've lived in under 300 square feet for over two years in the past, half of the time with a roommate. A single misplaced pipe or radiator can screw up the possibility of a space entirely, and too square an area can produce too much walkway and less "effective" square footage.

I know IKEA has been doing some experimental housing developments, I wonder if they have factored this into their design?
Exactly. I've often thought at Ikea that I wish I could just live in one of their showrooms.

The real irony here is that half of these poor layouts were architects/builders/remodelers trying to be smart and fit as many people into a space as possible and make it so that people would fit into less space. However, due to them doing a really poor job at this when these places were built (or redone) then you end up needing more square footage to live than you would if it was properly laid out.

I'm totally happy living in less than 350sq/ft, yet I end up looking at apartments closer to 600sq/ft generally due to poor layouts.

Building cost is (partly) dependent on the size of the walls. A long narrow apartment costs a bit more to build, because you need more walls.

People buy based on raw "floor space" measurements, and that's what they get. Optimal "floor space", but a bad layout.

I don't think architects necessarily want to play 'room tetris', it's just what happens when you have property developers on one side, and building regulations on the other.
HN Theater is an independent project and is not operated by Y Combinator or any of the video hosting platforms linked to on this site.
~ yaj@
;laksdfhjdhksalkfj more things ~ Privacy Policy ~
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.