Space and privacy are increasingly valuable commodities in cities, and many people on tight budgets find themselves in living situations that feel more than a little cramped. The average student in a city like New York or San Francisco can’t afford to live alone, and many more have difficulty accessing shared housing with just a handful of roommates. In Bangkok, students facing financial difficulties have been offered a ‘space scholarship,’ but the catch is they’ll be living with 6 other people in a tiny apartment. How can designers make such tight quarters more tolerable?
Fabrica, a research center based in Italy, came up with a few solutions as part of a corporate social responsibility initiative by Thai property developer AP Public Company Ltd. Making use of existing condo units in Bangkok, the firm did some heavy research on what makes co-living work before setting out to design the spaces.
Some are ultra-compact, consisting of just a single undivided room, yet manage to be comfortable for multiple inhabitants through built-in furniture that makes use of the vertical space. Others have a couple separate bedrooms, but pack three to four people into each one. Fabrica’s extensive use of smooth, pale wood surfaces, simple lines and cohesive color schemes goes a long way toward making each apartment feel spacious and uncluttered despite the number of people living there. The same materials and color schemes are carried throughout the interiors, including the kitchens and living rooms.
No matter how you spin it, 7 people is an awful big number for one compact condo. But take a second to consider what most college dorm rooms look like, and whether you’d prefer their cheap bunks and hot plates to a well-designed space full of useful space-saving features.