The New York Times last week had a marvelous piece on an incredible apartment designed and inhabited by Hong Kong architect Gary Chang. Chang remodeled the apartment he grew up in to contain 24 different layouts made possible by sliding and folding configurations. I love this example of architecture applying itself to the needs of living in today’s world. We know that density is going to be an increasingly important strategy for more sustainable urban environments, but density also creates problems. For cultures that have spent the past two or three generations migrating out of cities into sprawled suburbs, the move towards denser cities and communities is going to be difficult. We are going to have to learn to live with less space and more people around us.
When space is at a premium like this, it becomes less negative volume than positive element. Like clay, it is a medium to be sculpted and shaped. Chang’s apartment is a great example of how designers and architects can shift their thinking when they really consider the space, rather than the container. This may be a radical example, but it is easily distilled into practical, novel solutions for accommodating many functions in a small space. It is transformative, both within itself, literally, but also as a forerunner of the kind of solutions we will soon be seeing in our cities.
My favorite view is this one, with the hammock. If you could have 24 rooms in your apartment, certainly at least one would have a hammock, wouldn’t it? But all the views are wonderful, and worth a look.