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A Work and Sleep Container

By : Wu Chun Fai

Introduction (Project 1)
When designing my box capsule, I considered my own personality. When at home, I want total privacy and do not want to be disturbed. Therefore, I designed the box capsule which has the least number of windows: in this case, walls have none at all. One large opening in the middle of the capsule’s roof allows sunlight and ventilation to enter the enclosed space through a small relaxation courtyard, accessible from the bedroom and workroom at its two ends by means of folding glass doors. Echoing the capsule’s form, box-shaped interior furniture is designed to achieve maximum flexibility. Boxes can be moved and opened for different uses. For example, the bed is comprised of 6 box-units. These units can be moved to the courtyard during fine weather. The boxes can also be half-opened for use as a sofa. Similarly, workroom desks are built from the same box-units, but now fixed to the wall and opened when in use. Even the lamp takes shape of a box.

Tutor’s Comments
The original project brief proposed a study of spatial ergonomics. However in my studio I asked students to study prefabricated containers and one-room living. There were three objectives: First, to generate ideas of housing adaptability ideas as a solution to fulfil all functional requirements within a very small spatial unit; Second, to study the neutrality of a generic container: standardized on the one hand, and highly mobile and potentially multi-purpose on the other; and Third, to introduce environmentally friendly thinking: here, the adaptive reuse of standard shipping containers, the major waste product of Hong Kong’s harbour activities. The projects show that tight living conditions require maximum flexibility. Privacy demands are not necessarily met by subdividing the container into two types of spaces – bedrooms and a common space for living and dining. One-room living provides a greater sense of spaciousness than a tightly-fit, divided layout does. Twelve students generated twelve different concepts layouts in the same-sized container. These show how a neutral space could contain alternative designs and activities without physically altering its external shell. A user can change and rearrange the functions of a ‘room’ without being forced to accept stereotypes. Because the space is small, ornamentation was moderated or even deleted. In fact every component, detail, and junction was brought down to essentials. The project resulted with psychologically restful spaces. Interiors were humanized and intimate. Students realized that living with basic, minimal accoutrements was not necessarily life of a low standard. Quite the contrary: intelligent spatial design – life design – could maximize comforts and reduce environmental impact through conserved resources.

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