April 1, 2007
Deconstructions: Micro Compact Home
A little metal cube takes an energy-efficient approach to Lilliputian living.
This month Metropolis takes detailed looks at objects ranging in scale from the microscopic to the architectural. Links to the related stories can be found at the bottom of this article.
The prefab-home buyer confronts a host of new choices—from the charmingly quaint Katrina Cottage, by Marianne Cusato, to the ultramodern WeeHouse, by Alchemy Architects—but few offer the refined detailing of the Micro Compact Home (m-ch). Drawing inspiration from the streamlined interiors of airplanes, Richard Horden, with the help of his students at the Technical University of Munich, took an exacting yet holistic approach to every feature of the 76-square-foot dwelling, from the aluminum exterior down to the Internet ports. “Whereas a house is a volume in which you put furniture, this is about the integration of furniture in the architecture; the furniture is the architecture,” he says.
With such a small footprint, the house requires minimal energy for heating and cooling, and at the end of its life span, the little metal cube can be collected and recycled by the Austria-based manufacturer. (Horden is hoping to reduce its ecological impact further by building a version with low CO2 emissions, powered by PV cells and a small wind generator. It would emit about 20 times less carbon than a typical home.) Here Horden gives us a tour of what he calls his “instrument for living.”
A double bed is located above the dining area. There is also a spare one below that can be pulled out for guests.
We use LED lighting throughout. The whole house uses only 60 watts, whereas often people have just one lightbulb that is 75 or 80 watts.
Like a CD player, each aluminum drawer has return-sprung slides; when you
push them in, they go back into position.
Measuring 41 by 26 inches, the dining table can seat five and slides away under the horizontal drawers.
The cooktop has a two-hob induction, with a micro-wave integrated into the cupboards at the lower level. There is also a sink, fridge and freezer, three-bin waste unit, work surface, and storage above that.
The single most important decision was to make the bathroom serve as the entrance lobby. It’s actually very practical because you deal with all of your wet things in that little entryway, which is separated from the other areas by a sliding acrylic door. Because people objected to seeing the toilet, we now have a shutter that comes down to conceal it.
The sunken dining area was influenced by the layout of a Japanese teahouse, where you sit on the floor. The table and the floor are very close in height.