It’s amazing what can be done with such a small amount of space. For almost 40 years, Chinese architect Gary Chang has lived in the same 32 square-metres, the home in which he grew up in the Sai Wan Ho district of Hong Kong. What’s even more amazing is that the tiny 7th floor apartment was once sectioned into three small rooms, a kitchen, bathroom and hallway which used to accommodate a 14-year old Chang, his three sisters, parents and even a seventh tenant who sub-let the third room.
Now if you think that’s impressive, wait til you see what Chang has since done to his childhood home. Once his family moved out and onto a bigger space up the road, Chang decided to stay on and bought the apartment for $45,000 in 1988. Over the years, he would renovate and make several improvements to the apartment, but it wasn’t until his fourth and latest transformation in 2006, dubbed the ‘Domestic Transformer’, that people started to really take notice. That’s because what Chang has created is essentially a puzzle with 24 rooms, built into the walls of his seemingly tiny studio apartment. One minute you could be cooking up a feast in what he likes to call the ‘maximum kitchen’, the next minute the kitchen could be neatly packed away and you could be folding and packing away clean laundry straight out of the dryer. The office table extends to comfortably seat five at the dining table, there’s an exquisite walk-in-robe that even most homeowners would not be privy to, and there’s even an extra large Duravit bathtub hidden behind one of the walls. And if you don’t feel like taking a bath, there’s a whole ‘nother bathroom complete with toilet, hand basin and glass shower stall which acts as a colour therapy, steam and massage room, somehow slotted into one of the nooks and crannies of this petite residence.
All of this is made possible by way of sliding walls and panels, they’re bolted onto ceiling tracks and appear to hover above the black granite floor, which adds a smooth touch to the already well-thought out design. Mirrored ceilings keep the busyness of tracks up top to a minimum whilst cleverly giving the illusion of more space and light. There’s even a nice warm glow in the room year-round from the windows which have been tinted, so no matter how gloomy the day is outside you can always feel as though it’s sunny inside. If the sunlight is not needed, remote controlled curtains can be activated and a shade will automatically slide down, which, by the way, doubles up as a home theatre screen courtesy of the in-built projector.
With most features of this futuristic home designed to operate with a simple touch on his smartphone, this latest transformation has been the most expensive for Chang at a little over $218,000, but it’s a worthwhile investment in a city where space is in short supply. “It’s a big problem” explains Chang, “People feel trapped. We have to find ways to live with each other in small spaces.“
Either way it looks as though Chang’s quest in achieving comfortable and practical yet compact living is indeed a breath of fresh air in such high density living environments. Watch the video below and let Chang take you on a tour through his Domestic Transformer abode.
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