Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

27 April 2010

330 Square Feet, 24 à-La-Carte Possibilities

With a system of sliding walls on tracks (tactfully camouflaged with panels of mirrors), Hong Kong architect Gary Chang makes the most of his family's 330 square-foot apartment.

The idea is attractive because most major metropolitan capitols now suffer from a dearth of space. Living in small apartments in Paris and Berkeley, for example, taught me to be neater and more strategic in my organization than I am naturally inclined to be; every square foot counts, and after using one given area you have to clean it up -- at risk of suffocation.

Everything you own works hard to merit remaining in your ownership. By necessity you become more particular about the furniture you choose, the clothes you buy (many Parisian apartments don't have closets, and decisions about a proper armoire makes things more complicated) and where things fit. On top of that, everything must function in such a way, and be organized in a welcoming enough fashion, that you actually want to be there: day in, day out, living your life, reading alone or entertaining friends.

Embedded in all this are lessons about sustainability and teaching yourself to be more efficient, as opposed to simply buying more efficient machines (which pile up). Those lessons are priceless: they spread into all other facets of your life, creating efficiencies where none previously existed.

What you find is, while lack of space may be purely a matter of circumstance, lack of time is something we all have in common. You learn to make time work harder too: maximizing your pleasure, your benefits, the wealth of your life that can't be measured by having acquired people, things or money in large quantities (all of which, left untended, yield inefficiencies in some form).

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