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World’s narrowest house by Jakub Szczesny (dezeen.com)
84 points by mcenedella 1576 days ago | hide | past | web | 42 comments | favorite

Pretty cool, it seems to me that the reasons to have large spaces are mostly 1) psychological (this house feels claustrophobic) 2) storage of stuff. Imagine if we somehow managed to get rid of the second one. For people working from laptops this is already how it works, but for homes I think it is trickier. Of course there are people who live as techno-nomads already, but they have to swear by a kind of minimalist lifestyle that most people don't want, or that is economically infeasible. How quickly would one need stuff in order to make a JIT lifestyle feasible? For example: Need to host a dinner party? Rent a space with dining facilities and equipment that you need. I think the biggest bottleneck is that you can get these spaces, but you need to sift through many options, and you don't get the equipment that you would have chosen yourself. But what if you could store your preferences somehow virtually, and get the equipment you need exactly when you wanted it.

>>"* Need to host a dinner party? Rent a space with dining facilities and equipment that you need.*"

I think realistically if you don't have the space, you don't host the dinner party. Usually not. The whole cost-benefit-convenience-sunk cost-etc balance is completely different.

Someone who likes to cook and host might spend $75k on kitchen fittings, appliances, crockery & such every 10 years. Say they host 5 dinner parties per year. Would that person be wiling to spend only $25k on the kitchen & the remaining $50k + consumables on hosting the 50 dinner parties? Probably not. It's just different.

The JIT equivalent is not going to be renting a venue for a dinner party. It's going to be going to a restaurant or a bar.

> The JIT equivalent is not going to be renting a venue for a dinner party. It's going to be going to a restaurant or a bar.

Yes, exactly, my post was clearly very unclear. I was not trying to say "this is how we all live in the future", but rather, "how might we enable nice living in smaller apartments".

So I was trying to get at why one wants a big place. So why is this so, and is this the only mode of operating. Business usually rents space rather than owns it, but it was not always so. I'm wondering if one could make the own/rent equation more fine-grained. I'm thinking of some kind of personalized space rental. Like you store your data in the cloud, you could similarly store some of your stuff in the cloud, and only call it in when you actually need it.

Currently it is not too uncommon for people to collaboratively consume (e.g. borrow/rent over the Internet) rarely used tools, such as hedge clippers or lawn mowers. It does not make sense to do it for things one uses frequently (e.g. spoons), but it might make sense for other things. I've come to realize that I don't really need my living room on a daily basis, only for parties, and for that it is way too small. Now I don't want a restaurant for our mostly small children's parties, but could I somehow avoid owning the living room? If there was a space nearby that I could rent, that would not work, since the kitchen fittings, appliances etc. would not fit my needs or taste. It is currently infeasible to personalize the space for each tenant, but it is still interesting to consider. What if I had a storage space of stuff I owned (perhaps collectively with other people), that I could call on demand. When organizing the dinner party, the stored kitchen stuff would be retrieved from the storage (which could be at several physical locations), and delivered to the space. The organizing and moving costs are what makes it infeasible. The organizing cost could be removed with clever software, the moving cost, not so much.

Some condos have a common space that can be reserved for events. Instead of charging when you use it, they charge everyone a little bit through condo fees and then have it available by reservation.

> that the reasons to have large spaces are mostly

Actually, one of the most compelling reasons is building regulations, and minimum home sizes distorting the market.

Do we see many homes near the minimum?

When some arbitrary floor is having an impact you'de expect it to be felt. A lot of people have had a minimum wage job for example. Most are aware of it. Few people even know about minimum home sizes.

The psychological aspect goes beyond simple claustrophobia. Having a space that is My Space with a door that I can close and be undisturbed is something a lot of people value (and the number one reason I'm considering leaving my nice apartment in the middle of town). An extension of that is that most people would prefer if their children slept in a different room from them after a certain age (tied for first place as to why I'm considering leaving my apartment).

Another aspect is being able to dedicate and optimize a space to some function. I have to completely clean up and put away any electronics project I'm working on each evening, since we have to eat breakfast on that table the next morning. The result is I do a lot less electronics since it's a hassle to take everything out and put it back each time.

Finally there is just simply something appealing about open space. I can't really put my finger on it, but there is something very attractive about a large empty room with just two comfortable chair, maybe a small table, and a large window with a view.

I was not really trying to say that cramped spaces are great, rather try to think about ways to live in smaller spaces, simply because space is expensive, especially in cities. For this I'm considering the analogy "storing stuff in the cloud" (see thread above).

It's interesting you mention electonics projects, since one of the things I had in the back of my mind is doing wood- and metalworking, which tends to require their own spaces, which can be hard to come by (and expensive). One can either have a dedicated space and proper tools (table saw, drill press, metal brake, welder etc.) or then one can do small things in one's own apartment. To make it cheaper to have a dedicated space it could be made multi-user, shared by many people, but then one loses the benefit of storing the "state" of ones project, just by leaving everything where it was. Cleaning up at the end of each session can be a big fixed cost for larger projects.

Don't forget that most people want to raise children some day. Sure maybe some solution could be made to work for single people, but for anyone in a family, you need space.

But that doesn't mean your space usage can't be optimized so that you can get away with less space without feeling cramped (and yes, that house is way too cramped), and it is interesting to explore these possibilities.

I have a large-ish house. But it feels cramped very quickly when it's messy. There's a vast number of things to do that gives the feeling of space with less.

For example, in my case, one thing I've started working on is digitizing as much as I can of my life so I can put my dvd's and books in boxes and clear the walls and surfaces, for example. I realize that there's very few physical objects in my house I actually need, and I've started systematically working to pare it down.

But other factors makes a big difference too, such as simply keeping surfaces bare and everything tidy... More and more of our stuff goes in boxes and drawers - the space taken by extra storage is paid back many times over in the feeling of extra space from less clutter...

I'm not claustrophobic, and I don't need much storage, but I sure as hell need my own private space to move in all four directions. Don't underestimate the psychological aspect. People don't like to live in "prisons."

I can for the life of me not understand what you see as positive or "cool" about this home, the technical and architectural and artistic challenges of making it happen set aside. You sound like this is some visionary solution for a looming overpopulation issue?

I find nothing about this home actually nice; it definitely cannot be cheap judging from the designer interior and the fact that pretty much all parts are custom made. There are already very narrow shelters (I wouldn't call them "home", more like "cages") for the poor who cannot afford anything else and they do not look anything like that.

Having space is not just not-tackling-that-silly-psychological-barrier of claustrophobia but rather a luxury people will happily afford. Unless you will be partying and traveling ALL your life, you will spend a considerable amount of time in your home and especially in your bed; investing a good part of what you can afford in a nice home and a great bed is therefore a very smart decision for me. And it seems to be human nature to long for the feeling of having a lot of space, judging by what modern interior design typically does and by the fact that people will always get a place as big as they can afford instead of just splurging on a luxury 4mx5m one-room apartment.

The intention isn't to say that all people should have to live in homes like this, it's an art project that also happens to be a livable space. It's an outlier, a novelty, and that's what's it's intended to be.

From the article:

    “It requires a sense of humour, as you cannot stay long in a place like this,” 
    joked Szczesny.

I get an over distinct prison vibe when viewing some of these "homes". Its like dystopian fiction brought to life.

That's pretty neat, but even though it is not quite as narrow, I think the Richardson spite house is still my favorite narrow house: http://www.nyc-architecture.com/GON/GON005.htm

That was an awesome story, thanks.

That's at least 22 cm wider than this one:


And that one is inhabited. I wonder how the inhabitants schedule their days, I can imagine they have to plan their evening ahead before getting into the house to determine who goes first :)

This article says it's only the facade being that narrow, the other side is somewhat wider: http://www.holland.com/global/tourism/Article/the-narrowest-...

True. Great for bringing it up.

As for why facades are so narrow in Amsterdam, if people wonder (there are many more below 3 meters). It is because people used to have to pay property taxes based on the width of the facade of their house.

(so the owners of the house in the article got a good deal by being able to have a small facade for a wider house)

Maybe (not letting depth run wild either) something similar could be an interesting way to ensure walkable cities ;-)

Amsterdam had lots of weird taxes. But how about a window tax? (London)


Something similar existed in nl as well, which resulted in many windows being bricked in.

Interesting, I remember seeing a sort of an inverted pyramid house. It was built for similar reasons - a tax on the ground area. I cannot recall its location though.

Hah, cool! Thank you. Learn a new thing about your birthplace every day. When you're in Amsterdam walking along the Singel it's easy to recognize because there are always a lot of people in front of it making pictures of each other.

What I like about this is that both the house in TFA and this one are 'leftover space' re-used by someone that figured it's wasteful. It's a pity the house from the article can't be legally occupied, I'm sure it would be an interesting experience to live in a space like that for a while.

Hide-and-seek would be quite boring though!

sadly, due to construction and safety laws, it's officially uninhabitable. it can only serve a purpose of being an artistic instalation where one can stay temporarily, but it won't be qualified as a house.

the first concepts were a bit different looking http://warszawa.gazeta.pl/warszawa/51,34885,12670651.html?i=...

That's sad. In Hong Kong, this house would sell for a lot and would most likely be legal.

Corridor width regulations and such are probably more tolerant in places with limited land area like HK, but while I'm not an expert, I'm not so sure a metal box on sticks would qualify as real estate in most parts of the bureaucratic modern world.

Do you mean uninhabitable?

whoops, yes. corrected. tx

It's interesting that this is I think the 3rd article on tiny housing that has bubbled up on HN recently. At the moment in the UK the government wants people to buy houses, get on the market and so on, but in an area like London where housing is pricey and space is at a premium people are going to start needing to think up clever ways to use it at ground level, rather than building up and up.

Of course, they're nigh on useless for family units, but as a first time buyer property they'd probably be quite useful in terms of pricing (as long as they don't get sold as 'designer apartment spaces') and in sensible land usage.

Just looking at the pictures makes me claustrophobic...

Its interesting what you can adapt to. I've got a small 'class B' motor home (which is a converted van) and while it is quite small you get used to it on long trips.

In Charleston there is an impossibly narrow Charleston single house, built to be not much wider than a single doorway. It is a pastiche of classic Charleston building techniques, with three types of traditional roofing and five types of siding.


I love tiny houses and I would like to live in such one day, I don't want to spend fortune on building a huge house, maintaing it and cluttering with useless stuff. Of course the house from link is too extreme as it's an aristic installation, but I love the idea.

It was enough for me to feel the claustrophobia to see those pictures. Clearly not for everyone.

While not the narrowest, this one in Hong Kong [0] makes really good use of space by being able to move everything around.

[0] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lg9qnWg9kak&t=1m39s

There are many attempts at making compact houses. I think the genius of this house is in making it narrow (short-width) without compromising the length, which makes it actually habitable.

He didn't go far enough. The real challenge would be to approximate Flatland where you are constrained (as much as humanly possible ) to two dimensions. For example the desk in this home would not be allowed as a person could occupy the same 2d space.

Quite neat that the front door is horizontal and not vertical. :)

I wonder what the widest house is like? Perhaps the same house?

Is there a shower?

Looks like it from the pictures


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