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Inside a 420-Square-Foot Apartment With Seven Rooms

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One of the best new additions to the Open House New York schedule for this year is the LifeEdited apartment, the 420-square-foot pad on Sullivan Street designed to fit 1,100-square-feet worth of rooms. We stopped by for an OHNY tour led by David Friedlander of LifeEdited, who worked on the place along with its owner, TreeHugger's Graham Hill. The photos don't really do justice to the versatility of the space, which was built on the principle that it's possible to fit everything a person could want in this kind of square footage. In its basic living room layout, the apartment accommodates a couch and a standing desk that protrudes from the wall, with plenty of floor space in between. There's a Murphy bed in the wall, made out of airline-grade aluminum, and there's also a dining room table that unfolds to seat 10 or 12. (Chairs are stored in a stack in one of the closets.) A projector screen pulls down from the ceiling for movie night.

One of the must-haves for the apartment?the design is the brainchild of Romanian architecture students who won LifeEdited's competition over more than 300 other entries?was space for two overnight guests. So the living room wall moves forward on a track (designed by a company that does shelf-moving tracks for libraries) to expose another "room" where two twin beds pull out from the wall. Next to the beds are a few more cabinets, including one for bike storage. The whole thing works well for tall people, since so much of the storage is high up; Friedlander said one future challenge is to design a similar apartment for those "not so vertically gifted." LifeEdited made a video to demonstrate how all the room expansion and collapse works:

There are two rooms that don't change: the kitchen and the bathroom. The kitchen relies on small equipment, including a dish drawer, stackable bowls, an electric composter, and portable induction burners rather than a range. The bathroom is meant to double as a meditation room: a wooden panel folds down over the toilet to form a more conventional seat, and the toilet area is completely soundproof. In fact, the space was originally meant to be a sort of phone booth, Friedlander explained, but the soundproofing worked so well that it doesn't actually get cell reception. Better meditation that way, anyway.

A guiding idea of the project is that "small is green," and Hill and Friedlander also worked with a passive house consultant on the apartment's air barrier and energy use. But in other ways green components took a back seat to design?the "dining room" chairs, for example, were flown over from Europe, and Friedlander said he'd probably choose more basic folding chairs in future.

He might get the opportunity. The LifeEdited folks are on one of the teams that submitted designs for Mayor Bloomberg's proposed micro-apartments. Designing those could be an opportunity for the company to implement some ideas meant for a building with multiple microdwellings, like a shared product library where residents could, for example, borrow a large pot for one-time use instead of needing to buy and store one.
· Official site: LifeEdited [LifeEdited]
· Sullivan Street Apartment Fits 1,100 Square Feet Into 420 [Curbed]