Over the last 25 years, I have never lived in a space larger than 1500 square feet. For my wife and I smaller has always been better. I know that we are going against the grain since the average size of a house in America has steadily grown from 1800 square feet in the mid-1960’s to just under 3000 in the 2010’s. The reality is though, not everyone is can afford to, or wants to live in a McMansion. World-wide the average size of a living space is between 1000 and 1500 square feet, and in larger cities much smaller at 500 to 800 square feet. That means less room for furniture and furniture that is designed to function with multiple uses, or in ways that save space. This is where those clever students at MIT and designer Yves Béhar come in.
A team of MIT engineers have partnered with designer Yves Béhar to develop the ORI system of robotic furniture system for smaller/micro apartments that transform at the touch of a button or via a smartphone app. The Ori system is a compact module that incorporates a bed and a closet on one side, and a home office and an entertainment suite on the other expanding and contracting as needed to give up much-needed space. (This would have been so useful in our 850 square foot loft) On one side the bed is hidden, sliding under the bottom of the unit beneath a closet, couch, and office to maximize space. When activated, the unit moves in or out to become a bedroom or a more generous living room. One side of the unit hosts a full closet, but also contains a desk for a home office. The other side of the unit holds a media center for entertaining. Each room can be preset for Each room can be preset for your specific needs so that one touch on the physical interface or on the smartphone app will morph the room.
Ori is more than functionality. Units can be customized with a variety of finishes, materials, and colors that truly let you design your space. And the functionality means a small space can be transformed into a multi-functional home in just seconds. Beyond small apartments and loft spaces, I could see this being used in smaller vacation homes, guest houses, hotels and more.
I have never lived in a large house. Not even when I was growing up. My parents had a modest house of about 1400 square feet that worked just fine for 5 humans, two dogs, and a cat. Out of the three houses I have owned in my life, the largest was just under 1400 square feet of living space. My current dwelling is just at 1000.
Over the last 30 years, the average size of a single family house in America has ballooned to a whopping 2300+ square feet on average. America, and Americans have been sold on the idea that bigger is better, that more space equals happiness. On the opposite end of the scale, in Hong Kong there are groups of people living in apartments the size of walk-in closets. No I’m not advocating doing that.
Recently there has been a growing interest in the United States in smaller more efficient homes. Living in 1000 square feet or less is something that is actually fairly common in the rest of the world, where land is tight and properties are expensive. The images below show the vast disparity between property sizes through out the world, with the United States and Australia rounding out the top two, when it comes to McMansion sized homes.
Like the theme song to “Cheers” said, “sometimes ya gotta go”. This post really isn’t in the same context, but it is appropriate considering our house went on the market today. After 3 years, and 3 months were moving. Not because the house has issues, or the neighborhood has issues, not because of anything bad, just because… Sometimes you have to go. Maybe the sale can be chalked up to mid life trying to figure it all out syndrome or something. It’s hard to say, either way Modular 4 is going up for sale.
So what does this mean for my little blog experience? Nothing. The blog keeps on trucking. The house won’t be a part of it unless the new owner wants to be a guest writer, but the blog rolls on.
Look for a few posts about selling our house. I’ll try not to bore everyone to tears with commentary about the trials and tribulations of selling a modern home in traditional Kansas City.
UPDATE: If you want to see a video of the house click here.