Researchers at MIT have designed a modular apartment packed with technology that enables the occupant to get the maximum use out of the space available and enjoy all the benefits of a well-equipped home.

Apartment of the future can be re-configured with a wave of the hand

Shortage of living space is a major issue in big cities, and making the most of the space you have available is a goal which many engineers, researchers and architects have been working towards. Naturally the layout of the home is an important factor here. Now the MIT Media Lab has come up with an experimental CityHome. Their project involves a modular installation for a small apartment which can be reconfigured according to what the occupant wants to do at any given moment: have guests over for dinner, throw a party, work at a desk, sleep, etc. And this time there is no need to start heaving furniture around.

Tailored tech home

CityHome is a 60 square metre ‘box’ which incorporates everything you would find in an apartment of around 260 square metres.  It is designed as an integrated all-in-one unit that enables the occupant to constantly re-arrange the living space in accordance with his/her needs and wishes or those of guests. It uses a system of movable walls based on RoboWall technology. The novel feature of this setup is that the walls are embedded with sensors that enable the residents to control the system layout with a hand gesture. Various items of furniture and equipment – a bed, desk/table and bench – are incorporated into the box and can be brought out and put away again according to the needs of the moment, allowing the overall space to be reconfigured without any major physical effort.

Latest step in the smart home movement

CityHome is clearly part of the smart home and smart city movement. The MIT team describe the concept as "living large in a small space". However, as the box is designed to be fitted into a relatively limited living space, resource consumption can be kept to a minimum. Centralising all the main functions of an apartment into a single ‘box’ seems certain to help optimise energy consumption. The system has been designed for use in towns and cities, and is targeted at creative and flexible people who are keen to to live both efficiently and cheaply. At the moment CityHome is at the prototype stage at the Media Lab, but its designers are hoping to be able to launch it on the market very soon.



By Eliane HONG