The 24 Room Hong Kong Studio (Image Source:
Local builders (and design junkies) take note:

[The “maximum kitchen” and] “video game room” he was sitting in minutes before are just 2 of at least 24 different layouts that Mr. Chang, an architect, can impose on his 344-square-foot apartment [in Hong Kong], which he renovated last year. What appears to be an open-plan studio actually contains many rooms, because of sliding wall units, fold-down tables and chairs, and the habitual kinesis of a resident in a small space.

If you build it well, we bet they’ll come (and buy).
24 Rooms Tucked Into One [The New York Times] [Photos]

31 thoughts on “For The Love Of A Well Designed Small Space (And Quite Simply, Cool)”
  1. Very cool, they should have done this at the Cubix development.
    He could save some real space by getting those CDs onto an iPod though.

  2. I have similar problems with my CD collection, which is quite large. I have it all digitally nowadays like everyone else, but I still really like having the CDs “libraried” because the collection of hard copy media is something I’ve sort of carefully pruned over the years, and it represents things that I love. That said, actually finding a place to store them attractively is much easier said than done, and having a large wall of CDs is looking more and more dated. I wish I had invested it all in something more timeless like vinyl now!

  3. This is a very cool and (excruciatingly) imaginative place, but sometimes it’s easier to move to the burbs 😉 😉
    Seriously, a “Remote controlled bidet”?
    on the CDs: from the article, the owner is “a technophile who checks on his apartment with a Web cam (!) while traveling, [and] refuses to switch to MP3 files because he loves CD cases” — and yet he jumps thru all these other hoops.
    Also, this fellow is 46, childless, and grew up in this same apartment with three sisters, two parents and an additional renter (!) (he slept on a couch).
    Obviously, this experience made him a head case 🙂

  4. I think it’s brilliant.
    I also have all of my 2,000 CDs, but moved them into binders (and into armoires) long ago. CDs obviously sound far superior to MP3s, and it’s worth keeping them as a backup. I keep the vinyl out on the shelf because it’s good porn. And it sounds better than the CDs by a fair measure.
    BTW – the remote-controlled bidet is an off-the-shelf product from Toto. Not a big deal.

  5. MP3s are sooo 90s, I got rid of my MP3s years ago and only listen to AACs. Anyone will tell you that they are far superior to MP3.

  6. “I’m on full lossless files, far superior to either MP3 or AAC. All compression is bad, starting with CDs.”
    Totally. Moving with a couple thousand vinyl records is not very fun tho! that alone will keep me in my place.

  7. Very cool, but it would take serious discipline to live that tidily. It looks like the owner is the type of guy whose wardrobe consists of nothing but 12 copies of the same black outfit, so maybe it’s not a problem for him.

  8. “As SF RE continues to go up year after year, we’ll all be living like this. $10,000/SF anybody?”
    Foolio, are you still hitting the magic NAR flavored cough syrup? 😉

  9. So when is density too dense, or urban no longer urbane?
    Guy grew up in this place with his folks, 2 sisters, and a tenant! And they divied it up into separate rooms. Doing the math yields 57 square feet per body, or a space of roughly 7.5′ x 7.5′ per human. And 6 people and one bathroom? Yikes. I’d hate to be #6 on any given morning….think I’ll just hold it til I get to work.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for efficient use of space and hate wasted resources – I wish the egomaniacal wastrels building their 5,000 square foot “green” castles in the Oakland hills would take a hint from this guy. But this is pretty extreme. Regarding jessep’s Phillip K. Dick reference, reminds me more of Deckard’s apartment in Blade Runner (but tidier), especially the lighting.
    Guess I could never live in Hong Kong.

  10. Though this guy lives in Hong Kong, this is a very Japanese style of living. It is common in middle class traditional Japanese homes to convert the dining room into a bedroom by shuffling a little furniture around. And it helps if your furniture is just a few pillows and a little table.
    Here in the USA we need a bedroom for each occupant, some with walk-ins. Then we need a bathroom for each bedroom plus one extra for guests. Then you need a dining room, living room, and den. But you’re not doing well unless you have a home theater, wine “cellar” and a great room. We are literally living large. And in large debt.

  11. Imagine how annoying it would be to be lying in bed and suddenly realize that you really wanted a midnight snack?

  12. we fat Americans could all learn a few lessons from the Japanese with regard to living artfully and efficiently in a dense urban environment.
    They know how to use space well, and treat a living environment as a retreat, not something to brag about or show the americans do.
    Size doesn’t matter for Japanese living; it’s about quality of space, not quantity.

  13. This would be impractical for about 99.9% of humans, but I like the way he’s thinking outside the box. It’s like concept cars that are developed not to sell to the public but as a demonstration of what can be done.
    Cubix and the Book Concern are two examples of attempts to design small living spaces. I’d be interested in seeing more activity with building small urban homes…particularly well-designed good-quality homes with attractive amenities.
    Since the end of WWII, family sizes have been shrinking but home sizes have about doubled. In most of the rest of the world, people live in much smaller homes.
    Most of us have larger homes than we really need because we also tend to purchase too much stuff. That “makes sense” for a society/economy based on acquisition.
    I live in a well-thought-out home of about 625 square feet with a large outdoor space. It forces me to think about each purchase…for everything that comes in the door, something must go out. I know that sounds a little unAmerican.
    Most single people and couples living in the City could easily survive without owning a car…as long as ZipCar and a car rental agency (for longer weekend trips) is nearby.

  14. Thanks Ryan…I guess I missed that while just looking at the pictures. 😉
    $219,000 is a lot but a variation on this I think would be very doable in dense urban centers in this country.

  15. Very nice, but no computer room?
    And people should forget about TV….just use a projector to project onto the ceiling above the bed.

  16. SausalitoRes… I’m right there with ya. Me and my gal live in a 650 sf apartment with a deck. We literally don’t have enough space to even store those big packages of TP. We can keep about 4 on hand at a time. And we share one closet so when the new clothes come in the old ones make their way to Goodwill. It really helps to keep life simple for us. No room for stuff so we don’t buy stuff. But when Jr. comes into the pic in a few years we’ll have to get another room for sure. Oh jeeze, then the crap will accumulate and simplicity will be lost!

  17. @ Dude, We live 5 people to 900 sq ft. I can’t imagine going any smaller either. It IS starting to get old for me now that the baby is 12, especially as I personally grew up an only child in big houses, but having my own desk would be a lot more important than an other bathroom, believe it or not. Our schedules are staggered enough that we’re not all trying to get in there at once. Obviously, though, it does need to be cleaned a lot more often than most people’s houses. So, I think most Americans could go a lot smaller and be a lot less in debt as Milkshake points out.
    I like this guy’s ideas, but “concept car” is a good analogy. It really wouldn’t work for more than one person – you’d be slamming walls into your family members all the time.
    PS @ Boo – somehow we manage to buy the big packs of TP. If your ceiling is tall enough, try putting a few floating shelves high on your bathroom wall.

  18. I grew up in one of the apartment like this in Hong Kong. For many years we rent out one of the 2 bedroom, most of times to some couples. But at one time we have another family of 3 sharing the flat with our family of 4. I play with the other kid then. Despite the seemingly small space I had not feel deprived. And our living situation is really not much worst then other people at that time.
    I cherish that experience as it allow me to see things in more than one way and to not take anything for granted. I just wonder how would I convey this to my child, whom are growing up with material comfort unimaginable one generation ago.
    For those of who are shocked by this living condition, maybe you can still find this in Latino neighborhoods around you.

  19. We also grew up in confined quarters. 8 people in a 2Br/1Ba apartment in the Tenderloin. 3 kids per bedroom and parents slept in the LR.
    not saying I loved every second, but it was fine. I never felt cramped until I saw how rich people lived (and back then, I thought rich was having your own bedroom).
    although I have unfortunately learned the love of space (I now live 1600sq ft for 2 people, although we have lots of guests often), I am still continually amazed by people’s need for bathrooms. Especially when you have no space, like in San Francisco. So many people say “well of course that 2Br didn’t sell, it only has 1 bathroom!”. For me, if I was short on space I’d get as much common living space as possible.
    it makes me wonder what people are doing with all those bathrooms. Perhaps Americans poop more often than other peoples of the Earth? or their personal hygeine takes longer?
    as for this space: I think it’s very cool. I could easily live there as a single person. I could also do it with one other person, depending on their personal habits (for instance, in college I lived in dorms about this size with other people without problems). I’m not ready to Hong Kong it with 5-6 other people though!

  20. @ex SF: do you have children? Surely, you appreciate the advantage of having an extra “adult only/mostly” bathroom? Or since you entertain so much, a “guest only” bathroom?
    @Wai-Tip – these are not shocking conditions — for a single person this is a very cool place! What’s shocking is that this well-to-do 46 yr old childless architect would go to such imaginative lengths (and costs!) to preserve them.
    Don’t be fooled: this fellow is wealthy and has the best of everything, except for some reason he is denying himself some square footage.
    I suppose the economy is flushing the “live small” fetishists, and the wonderful thing is that these ideas can be applied to larger, more civilized spaces too. So it’s all good, and I can’t wait to see more ideas!

  21. We moved around a lot when growing up, but during the time I was in high school, we had eight kids, six of them teenagers, and two adults living in about 1100 sq ft with one bathroom. This was rural living, so we had two kids sleeping on the porch, one in a travel trailer in the front yard and two in the garage, but mornings the bathroom was literally scheduled, with everyone having their 10 minutes.
    I knew we were poor, but I didn’t really feel deprived until I went off to college and learned to enjoy long showers. Then I was back on the 10 minute schedule when I visited and I suffered!
    I don’t really understand how people can live in these 3000 square foot places in the suburbs, but I guess they a need place for all their “stuff,” most of which sits unused. I always wonder at the closets full of unused clothes at my in-laws seven bedroom, four bath house in Sacramento.

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