Live between Buildings!

A speculative project aims to plug in the holes to solve the housing shortage in dense cities.

Live between Buildings!

Developed by architects Mateusz Mastalski and Ole Robin Storjohann, the design scheme asks people to "live in between buildings."

Live between Buildings!

The duo propose a series of modular dwellings designed to fill in the gaps in cities, creating housing on unassuming mid-block sites.

Live between Buildings!

They developed a system of loft structures that can take a range of shapes and forms to adapt to any kind of urban environment.

Live between Buildings!

The designs are often fanciful, like this Space Invader-themed house in Tokyo…

Live between Buildings!

…or a Y House in New York…

Live between Buildings!

…or an egg house in London.

Live between Buildings!

The project was developed for a competition, sponsored by window company Fakro, seeking innovative loft designs.

Live between Buildings!

Architects were asked to incorporate Fakro products in their submissions.

Live between Buildings!

Mastalski and Storjohann’s entry proposes cladding their modular structures entirely with Fakro roof windows, which have been fitted together "with some technical adjustments."

Live between Buildings!

The designs are schematic at best, with little to no details regarding plumbing or even basic circulation.

Live between Buildings!

It’s an interesting solution, but it begs the question: Would you really want to live in a five-foot-wide house?

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Would You Move Into A 5-Foot-Wide Home?

Can’t afford to live in the heart of a major city? A new scheme has designs on the spaces in between buildings.

As the world urbanizes and the density of cities scales up and up, there’s the pressing architectural and urban planning reality of where and how to create new housing. In a city like New York, there isn’t exactly a wealth of wide-open spaces and vast empty lots. Between buildings, however, there are thousands of unassuming infill, mid-block sites ripe for architectural intervention. (Just like this one.)

Live Between Buildings!, an award-winning design prompt, aims to fill in these blanks. Developed by architects Mateusz Mastalski and Ole Robin Storjohann, the project proposes a new way to make a home in the city—in the narrow pockets of space that riddle the urban fabric.

The pair claim that the system, a quasi-standardized method for erecting interstitial loft-like dwellings in between buildings, can be employed in almost any urban context. Project drawings imagine a diverse mix of infill structures plugged into the crevices of housing blocks in New York and other highly dense cities, like Tokyo, Amsterdam, Helsinki, and London. For the purposes of the exercise, each of the structures assumes a different fanciful shape—an X, an O, a speech bubble, even a Space Invader. Some are suspended in mid-air and others are rotated on their sides.

All of the sketches, released this week, are linked by their integrative use of Fakro windows. The brand specificity comes out of the fact that in May the scheme won the second annual "New Vision of the Loft" competition, sponsored by the Poland-based global skylight and roof manufacturer, which challenged designers to apply their products and technology.

Surprisingly for a window-led brief, it yielded a great number of interesting proposals, including one for a monolithic green wall of loft apartments, and another for roving undersea pods.

Mastalski and Robin’s winning project was, in some ways, the most modest of the finalists. But their bubble dwellings were also the sharpest and most critically attuned to urban conditions. They clad the exterior with the window panels, seamlessly linked together by imagination and "some technical adjustments."

In each example, the windows are rendered as modular components that can be aggregated to form a wide range of shapes. The architects don’t specify the widths (or even entrances) of these structures, but if they’re as narrow as this house, claustrophobics need not apply, no matter how many glassy outlooks are built in.

[h/t ArchDaily]

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  • Cydni Perkins

    There are already lots of people in Manhattan living in spaces that folks out west would call a closet or a bathroom. They have apartment tours on youtube. People can live in these spaces happily. And the strange, multilevel designs will force people to interact with their environment using ladders and stairs in a way that may keep them healthier. What I'm concerned about is adequate shelter. That Y house is going to collect rain and snow in the center of the roof, and it's going to come into the house no matter how diligently the owners drain it or how carefully the builders seal the panels. I think the speech bubble shaped house in the first picture will be the most practical. It looks like a lot of fun, and it's a bigger space than what many people in New York have. I think it would work nicely.

  • Greg Bailey

    The modular construction and varied exterior forms are great solutions.  However, it's unlikely anyone could be fully comfortable in a five foot wide space, no matter how many windows.  Make it ten or more and the space become quite exciting.

  • Rachel

    Interesting idea! One quick note: it's not a Space Invader, it's a ghost from Pac-Man.