A small, slim space

According to the NPR piece, “Living Very, Very Narrowly,” writer Etgar Keret is making a new home in a 133 centimeter (4.36 feet) space between two buildings in downtown Warsaw, Poland. His home will fit here:

Image and rendering below are by the home’s architect, Jakub Szczęsny

The house will be named “Ermitage” and will be as much a workplace and studio for visiting guests as a place for Keret to live when he is in Warsaw. From descriptions on the architect and Keret’s websites, they imply that Keret will not live full-time in this space, and that his primary residence is in Israel. As a second home, I think the size constraints are manageable, like a cabin:

The thin home has a bathroom, kitchenette, dining area, bed, and office space. There also appears to be some storage in the “attic” at the top of the home. It is, most certainly, a novel project and I look forward to seeing its final fabrication. The home is scheduled to be completed and occupied by February 2012.

41 Comments for “A small, slim space”

  1. posted by Kirsten on

    It’s like living in a three-story Amtrak sleeper compartment!

  2. posted by Jessica Davis on

    When I saw the image it immediately reminded me of those ant farms that kids get as a science toy.

  3. posted by Anne on

    How would he access that green beanbag chair (?) on the far right side of the first level? Hoist himself from the stairs?

  4. posted by Anna on

    Unfortunately, this project breaks some Polish construction laws. It won’t be legally a house, but a work of art.

    Still, I love the project. 😉

  5. posted by HonkyTonkFoodie on

    @Anne – the stairs raise to create a solid floor. I wondered the same thing.

  6. posted by Laurel on

    Interesting, Anna–thank you for that information!

    I think the most challenging part would be the lack of natural light–at least, it looks like there won’t be much.

  7. posted by Sooz on

    Surely not for the claustrophobic.

    @Jessica Davis: I think it would make most people feel like they were living in one of those “ant farms”!

  8. posted by Cupcake on

    Just looking at this made me feel cramped. I think if it had a few windows or at least some sort of skylights it would feel less oppressive, but I cannot imagine coming “home” to this and feeling comfortable. Ever.

  9. posted by Another Deb on

    Perfect place for flat-screen EVERYTHING!

  10. posted by Jacki Hollywood Brown on

    I would feel very nervous going down the ladder in the middle of the night with a full bladder.

  11. posted by Amanda on

    Just looking at the conceptual design makes my inner claustrophobia person start gasping for breath. Yikes!

  12. posted by jodi on

    It would be totally impractical with a family, and yet with some modifications it is giving me dozens of ideas for our house we plan to build in a few years! I love looking at tiny spaces to figure out how to maximize my living space!

  13. posted by Pammyfay on

    The cynical part of me thinks that he’s trying to position himself in a good position real estate-wise: The buildings on both sides of him appear to be a mix of retail and residential, and when redevelopers come in to buy the properties (and they will), they will have to buy him out, too. For little money now, he’ll get a big payoff later, because redevelopers will have a tough time building around him.

    (I also can’t see him having REPEAT guests!)

  14. posted by Nana on

    There seems to be a skylight. Of course, between the shadows from the buildings and the long Polish winters, not much light may be shed.

    Certainly a fascinating one-night experience for the non-claustrophobic, non-bladder-challenged.

  15. posted by Marie on

    My favorite part of the design is the slanted roof with a skylight. Hope it’s facing the right way for actual light!

  16. posted by chacha1 on

    It’s a remarkably inventive use of space. I would loathe spending more than ten minutes in it, but applaud the daring of it.

  17. posted by Laurazz on

    Love this truly small space!

  18. posted by dtj on

    I fairly poor use of space. The stairs effectively ruin probably a third of the floor space in the entire “house”. It could use a coupla more skylights as well.

  19. posted by J on

    There are several houses like this in the Netherlands, where actual people actually live. Not sure if any of them are families or just singles with a creative attitude. The building styles dictate long narrow houses, with steep stairs, so it is not uncommon for the older cities to have a few houses that are only as wide as the front door, although some of them get wider towards the back of the house.

  20. posted by recycler on

    Not so long ago I saw a documentary about this kind of buildings in Tokyo. Apparently, real estate is so expensive there that there are many buildings like this situated on street corners and in-between other buildings. I think most of them are used as small shops or offices, but I also remember seeing some apartments like this.

    So, in conclusion, this is nothing new, but still fascinating, I think.

    It also reminds me of a project I saw (in Norway, I think) where they were building apartments by welding together old shipping containers.

  21. posted by Janet on

    Maybe I’m just cranky, but I don’t think it’s innovative or creative to live in an ant farm. How about being creative about picking somewhere to live?

    There’s plenty of room out there for all of us but if we insist on living on top of each other I guess it’ll come to this.

  22. posted by Pam on

    I think once there’s a wall on the other side, this will be the darkest place above ground. Even with the skylight on top, being between buildings as it is, there will be little or no natural light, enhancing the “ant farm” feel.

    Nope, this would not work for me. I would be in a constant state of depression.

    But I could see this working if you built them in a different space, where it could be flooded all along the angular roof with natural light.

    For me, the problem is not so much the narrowness as it is the lack of light.

  23. posted by Sue on

    I went to the npr piece, and they show the occupant sitting at the desk. Looks way too cramped. I’d ditch the desk and work from the beanbag chair. At least with the stairs up, there’s some room to lean back and stretch out the legs.

    I just can’t imagine being comfortable in this space. One small window over the bed and one tiny skylight? Yikes! Plus, other than the bed and beanbag chair, there is no comfortable place to sit. I wouldn’t want to eat at that tiny table, but I assume no real meals would be prepared in that tiny kitchen.

    What’s in the attic? Is that where the clothing is kept? Or is that the fridge?

    Finally, I can’t figure out why the ground floor was completey wasted. If that’s the front door at the bottom of those stairs, why not use the ground level?

  24. posted by Joanne on

    I think its clever and innovative and as a pied-à-terre (not a full time residence) it works great!

  25. posted by Jen on

    Puts things in perspective. We’re getting a fence, and I was stressing out about the gate to the backyard being only 4 feet wide!

  26. posted by v khan on


  27. posted by JP on

    I see a sky-light but no window. Ew. Otherwise very interesting and good to know it’s an occasional living space, and not a full-time home.

  28. posted by Shalin on

    I really don’t know if I’d enjoy it without much sunlight, but wow – it’s an interesting and innovative housing solution…


  29. posted by James on

    It’s fun to see innovative uses of unusual spaces. I do wonder, though, about the sustainability of maintaining multiple residences, even when one is as clever as this one.

  30. posted by aunt.cloud on

    In Hebrew, “Etgar” means “challenge”. Just sayin’.

  31. posted by Ann on

    I think if I were designing it, I’d have tried to find a way to have the stairs fold up in such a way as to go up to the second floor after they fold up from the floor level, so as not to have to climb down the ladder to go to the bathroom.

    And I can’t figure out why, at only a little over 4′ wide, the entire front wall couldn’t be a window wall, or why the sloping roof couldn’t have more skylights. They could close electronically if the sun was too bright.

    I agree that it’s interesting, but also that it makes me feel claustrophobic just looking at it. I guess it beats sleeping in your car, though.

  32. posted by JustGail on

    It sounds like this will not be his full time residence, but (I guessing on this) more like a place to sleep when in town, rather than having a full size apartment or house or renting a hotel room. If that’s the case, it’s a neat idea. Since the stairs will raise to become part of the first (second?) floor, I wonder if the area behind is for storage of a bike or items needed to maintain the house. But I agree with so many others – needs more windows and those middle of the night bathroom runs would not be fun, not that they are anyway.

    It may small, but it’s huge compared to those Japanese pods that were on here a while back!

  33. posted by Jude on

    I wouldn’t want to live there, but if he likes it… Apparently the four feet are just the widest part, the NPR-piece says it even gets narrower. They gave the streetnames (their link didn’t work though) and I had a look in Google maps, you can find it here: http://bit.ly/pqAhG9

    It looks like it’s a densely populated area with many multi-storey buildings, and there are almost no spaces that don’t belong to some building or at least would block other people’s view (like the square space right on the corner, which I’d find preferable to that narrow slot). So the experiment does make sense from that point of view. But I think I would have tried to get permission to build something on stilts above some of the parking spaces or similar instead. His pod is already on stilts and appears to be planned like a camper with metal walls or similar. That kind of structure could take many other shapes that would feel more livable, at least to me. Once the novelty has worn off the narrow walls would feel suffocating. Not quite the right setup to do actual writing. But as I said, as long as he likes it. And it sure is an interesting idea.

  34. posted by dawn w on

    I would lose my mind in there.

  35. posted by alliandre on

    Aaargh! I like looking at all these new tiny houses that seem to be so in fashion today, but this one really is claustrophobic!

  36. posted by Heidi Poe on

    I’m not claustrophobic in the least, but this post sends shivers down my spine. I need some room to move around at home!

  37. posted by Matthew Asai on

    Look at these hotel accomodations in Tokyo and other large Japanese cities. http://www.capsuleinn.com/

    I also thought about the wasted space on the first floor. Maybe the whole structure is self-contained and sits on legs.

  38. posted by yodz on

    Why not make it square for extra room?
    It’s fascinating, but squatters in the Philippines are already doing this a long time ago.

  39. posted by Sarah on

    Interesting concept, but it needs a few more skylights, don’t you think? Or does the architect like the darkness?

  40. posted by Stephanie on

    I don’t understand what people are saying about there not being a toilet. I clearly see one. If people think it’s too far from the bed…remember how small the whole “house” is. It would feel like an adventure. Depending on the lighting and clour of the walls it might feel nice and cozy. We are running out of room in this world. We like living close to cities and looking at other alternatives within said cities is smart.

  41. posted by Kalle on

    Like living in a space shuttle. Love it!

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