In the future, we'll be living in boxes

EMILY POWER
Last updated 05:30 07/06/2014
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TIGHT SQUEEZE: Here, the apartment is a cozy lounge, but with the bookcase tucked away it becomes a bedroom.

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Future homebuyers needing to think outside the box could soon find themselves living in one.

Researchers from a Boston university have created a high-tech house-in-a-box that transforms a single compact living zone into several different rooms in one quick Harry Potter-style wave of the hand.

And with the population of cities like Auckland booming, many of us could one day call a little cube a home.

The 18-square-metre CityHome has been designed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a high-density residential option for overcrowded cities.

The concept is based on a stowaway bed, common in space-efficient studio apartments. But hiding more than just hiding a mattress, the CityHome box is a complete micro apartment. 

The moveable box conceals a retractable bed, desk, dining table, cooking facilities, wardrobe and storage, each sliding in and out on a smooth motorised track. When all the elements are hidden, the space becomes a lounge room.

Each piece of furniture pops out on command, controlled by sophisticated hand-gesture and voice-recognition software.

With the flick of a finger, the cube moves a few feet to extend or compress a room when extra space is needed. 

The researchers have also designed apps to control lighting and blinds by hand movements and voice.

City dwellers living in box houses in the future is not unrealistic, said Dr Dolly Daou, Swinburne University's interior architecture course co-ordinator.

Young middle-class professionals who cannot afford an apartment would be the likely buyers of tech-smart box homes, she said.

"I predict we are heading down that route," Dr Daou said.

"Nobody likes to live in a shoe box but in the future we won't have the luxury of space.

"It is already happening, like sleeping capsules in Tokyo where the bed slides out of the wall and there is just room for the bed and your overnight bag. 

"In Paris, a 16 to 18-square-metre apartment for a couple is the standard, and a 28-square-metre apartment is considered quite large.

"The solution comes down to adaptive and re-adaptive design of living spaces. It is all about multi-purpose uses for the space."

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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