Smart Home Tiny Spaces Found in a Hong Kong Apartment
Posted on Tuesday, April 19 2016 09:59:00 AM in Blog by Kathy Choi-Lee
Michelle and Andy came to LAAB with big plans and a long wish-list for their apartment, asking us to fit a full kitchen, large bathtub, home cinema, gym, cat friendly spaces and plenty of storage into just 309 sq ft.
The apartment was so small, because the couple wanted to live in the heart of Hong Kong, Central district. Hong Kong is already one of the most expensive places in the world to live, and nowhere is this truer than in Central. Given the choice of putting all of their resources and gaining an extra 30-50 sq ft or saving some of their budget for a groundbreaking interior design that would create the feeling of much more space, the couple chose to go with design.
To realise their ambitious plans, our team at LAAB had to think beyond static spaces. We began considering time as a factor, eventually designing the space around a “Form Follows Time” philosophy, which means that spaces open and close depending on the purposes needed at that particular time. This is best demonstrated by the bathtub area of the apartment. This one space can take the following forms:
- The traditional bathroom with bathtub.
- Separate bathtub so that a guest can shower while the host brushes teeth or vice versa
- 2ndtier seating creating a two tiered home cinema or seating for large groups of friends
- Guest bedroom for short stay guests
These forms can also be blended, allowing for a home cinema experience while in the bath, or movie viewing for host and guest while both are in bed. Achieving this level of flexibility in this area and others required over 30 design iterations and large amounts of experimentation.
Meticulous planning and extraordinary craftsmanship was fundamental to achieving this design. It depended on the absolute synchronization of components, structures and appliances, all of which either moves or can be revealed when necessary, creating construction tolerance of just 3mm. Additionally, all elements, from the 4K curved TV, to the dining table, to the make-up table and storage are all designed to hide flat and smooth to keep the flat looking neat and spacious.
A range of app-controlled smart home technologies have also been implemented, primarily Philips Hue bulbs and the August smart lock. The lights are able to slowly brighten the room in the morning, giving the couple a gentle wake-up while the door lock means they can enter effortlessly or send electronic keys to friends to help them look after their cats.
Cats and their needs were a very important factor in this design. You could say that the apartment was not only designed for Michelle and Andy but also for their three cats, Banoffee, Dumpling and Tuxedo. Cat areas include a cat walk around the ceiling, cat ladder, litter box hidden beneath the bathroom sink, cat food trays hidden within the kitchen cabinets and a hidden den for them to relax in.
Implementing these cat friendly concepts was a challenge. Materials, details and mechanical systems were all strategically designed to keep the spaces dry, cleanable, cat-friendly, and free of undesirable smells. For example, the cat litter box has been equipped with its own ventilation system that pulls smells out of the building.
“The most important thing is how comfortable the apartment is. Many of our friends come over and visit our place, and they have never seen such a nice kitchen even though their own apartments are bigger than ours.” – Andy and Michelle