Simplicity Symposium: Part 5

2006 September 10


Hong Kong-based architect Gary Chang showed this grainy picture of a "cageman" house. The structure is a low-cost unit that measures 1-meter by 2-meters where each unit is stacked vertically in a warehouse-like enclosure. There is no privacy as part of the living style of the cagemen, and naturally their belongings are pared down to only the barest of essentials a la law1. Gary says that the inhabitants prefer living in the cages over regular living units because the spaces have the value of constant social interaction--surprisingly the cost difference to rent a cage versus a small flat is not significant.

Gary scored a bit hit with the design of his suitcase house built near the Great Wall. This building is a single story structure where when you walk in, all you see is a simple floor stretched across the entire building with no walls. The trick is that the floors fold and flip to reveal a kitchen, bath, bedroom and other components in the spirit of hide as developed in the first Law.

Describing his own tiny flat, Gary showed how he creates space on-demand by reconfiguring the elements based upon the time of day. For instance, he has a huge bed, that folds up to make space for his dining area with a kitchen that swings out, and then when finished eating he pops open his work space and then by the evening his projection TV screen unfurls with all other elements stowed away to create a personal theater. At the end of the day, everything vanishes and his bed folds out to continue the active cycling of his immediate living realm. It all looked quite simple to the audience, but by virtue of Gary's subtle mastery of the art of context.