Two hundred square feet. It’s horrifyingly small, even by New York standards. But a new project called CityHome, by MIT Media Lab’s Changing Places group, can make it feel like you’re living in an apartment three times as big.
CityHome is essentially a hideaway bed taken to the upteenth level. It’s a mechanical box about the size of a closet that sits inside an apartment, where it stows a bed, dining room table, kitchen surface, a cooking range, a closet, and multipurpose storage, too. Through gestures, touch, and voice control, each element can be called forth from the cube. Internal motors eject each piece with the convenient fluidity of a power window. And, in a final trick, the entire module can move a few feet each way, extending or compressing a room at will. (If you’re not in the bathroom, do you need the space to use the shower, or would that square footage be better served in the living room or kitchen?)
“This would work well in the 30 to 40 Innovation Cities where young people are priced out of the market,” lead researcher Kent Larson explains. “At $1,000 per square foot in Boston, the extra cost of technology is trivial compared to space saved for a furnished apartment.” In other words, you could drop a CityHome box into a very tiny apartment that meets your budget and make that space infinitely more livable without breaking your bank.
Larson assures us that CityHome isn’t just a concept, but a viable product, and he intends to bring it to market through either a startup or a commercial sponsor. And while it certainly seems like a promising solution to stretch a closet into a small apartment, CityHome seems even more attractive as a way to stretch any small apartment into a slightly more livable one.