Friday, February 7, 2014

The Art of Making Space

Despite opposing opinions, I do believe it is safe to say that as planet Earth is still perfectly capable of providing a stable environment for its inhabitants. However the issue at hand is overcrowding. And no, I am not presenting a radical statement in which populations are increasing so rapidly that I would advise you all to start making plans for settling on mars. I just want to bring attention to the urbanization that is creating somewhat of an unsettling problem for those individuals leaving the rural lands and trying to prosper in the urban cities.
It could be traced back to the Industrial Revolution and our ancestors’ desire to keep growing, getting bigger in everything, and reconstructing this world by maximizing the apparently bountiful resources at hand. Just like back then, the lure of urbanization, today, seems to be a popular one for a multitude of reasons: cultural exposure, economic and educational benefits, etc. Nevertheless, with all the individuals trying to commit to the “city life”, living arrangements can become somewhat of a hassle.
Whether it is a student looking for efficient ways to organize his or her dorm room or an architect trying to develop structures for the upcoming World Cup in Brazil, space is always an issue. ­­­­­In an effort to get the most out of small square units of space, there are individuals who have mastered this practice of maximization. As I was perusing the internet, only in an effort to fulfill my role as a dedicated college student of the 21st century, I came across this video that blew my mind. Graham Hill gives us a tour of his apartment and reveals a beautiful new art of saving space ( There are many more artists, if you will, like Graham who are taking measures to contribute to this brilliant idea.
This is becoming a new wave of design that allows individuals to continue living in small areas and still enjoy the luxury of spacious areas. It appears to be so simple. These ever so advanced apartments do not look as if they are scenes from sci-fi movies; they are perfectly normal living spaces in which a general population of city residents sleeps in every night. This does not resonate as a completely divergent way in design and thinking, rather, just a new take on methods that are already there.  Ward mentions this concept of novel variation when he asks college students to create monsters. None of these designs were totally abstract. Many took the form of symmetrical figures possessing limbs similar to creatures already inhabiting the earth. Evidently, it was difficult for the imagination to create something without drawing upon past influences and inspirations.
Are these new apartments’ designs merely shifts in practical strategizing or have they opened the door for a new paradigm of design and architecture? Only time will tell. On that note, I welcome further exploration of the possibilities the 21st century has to offer.

1 comment:

  1. At current rates of population growth, saving space by increasing the population density in cities is a must. This is because we must leave enough land available for agriculture and resource development to fuel continuing growth in the global economy, in order that we lift the remaining part of the world population out of poverty.

    The main problem that I see is that, while everyone in theory likes the idea, many do not like it in practice. In Australia, we call this NIMBYism - Not In My Back Yard. An example that I know was a proposed medium density development along a train line through a wealthy area of my home city of Sydney. While this makes perfect sense from the sense of city planning, placing higher density housing near transportation hubs and shopping districts, many residents opposed the development, arguing that it would irrevocably change the character of the neighborhood. They took the government to court over these planning regulations, and won. Instead of producing thousands of new homes for people to live within 30 minutes of the Sydney CBD, development will take place outside of the established city, which is over 2 hours of driving in regular peak hour traffic.

    The other issue is that, in some western nations, particularly the US, Canada and Australia, the dream of owning a home with a yard prevents the medium and high density housing needed to prevent urban sprawl. The American Dream is, to an extent, incompatible with the sorts of dwellings that require such space saving ideas. However, we do have hope from many societies, particularly places such as Japan. I've placed a couple of links below to Japanese 'Capsule Hotels'. In these hotels, you don't rent a room, but instead just a bunk that is a small capsule, hence the name. This is emblematic of a culture that saves space - whenever I fly through Tokyo airport, I can take a shower in a room that I can touch all of the walls without moving. Yet the thing I remember is not that it was so small, but that I could shower for very little money. Hopefully, we will move towards adopting this space-saving ideal, and allow greater population densities in the future.


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