Living Compact! It's Cool!

When you live in a small space, every square inch counts, and furniture that can expand and contract on demand makes it a lot easier to fit all the functions you need into your home without feeling overwhelmed with clutter. Modular furniture sets and rooms-within-rooms containing fold-out and slide-out components make clever use of the space available, and the ability to hide things away when they’re not in use will please minimalists, too.

Sleepbox: Tiny Bedroom for Public Spaces

Fold Out Room Sleepbox
Sleepy travelers can catch a night’s sleep in private surroundings with the Sleepbox, a compact lodging pod meant for public spaces like airports and train stations. For those with layovers or unexpected delays, a room-in-the-box right inside the transit station could definitely be an affordable and convenient option.

Cocoon 1 Room Pod

Fold Out Room Cocoon 1
This unusual room-within-a-room is almost as much an art piece as it is a functional living space. Cocoon 1 by Micasa Lab is a plastic pod offering a separated space that provides a sense of privacy and solitude while maintaining a connection to the outside world. It contains built-in furniture, a kitchen and a power pack that can provide either 40 hours of light, or 20 hours of light plus 30 minutes of cooking.

Boxetti: 3 All-in-One Fold-Out Living Spaces

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Fold Out Room Boxetti 2
Minimalists, rejoice – options that hide virtually everything from view when not in use are not only becoming easier to procure, they’re more stylish than ever, too. The Boxetti Collection by Rolands Landsbergs is a series of fold-out, slide-out living spaces contained within simple white modules. It includes a bedroom box, a living room box, an office and a kitchen.

Sleek and Simple Fold-Out Bedroom Box

Fold Out Rooms Bedroom Oda 1 Fold Out Rooms Bedroom Oda 2
For those in temporary living spaces, or who just don’t care about personalizing their homes, all-in-one box systems like the Room by ODA offer a modular dwelling system that collapses and expands. It comes with three elements – the pod, a media station and a satellite. Colors and materials can be customized.

Fold-Out Kitchen by Giorgio Armani

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The ‘Disappearing Room’ by designer Giorgio Armani is yet another system that hides lots of function, ideal for those who prefer a minimalist aesthetic. The kitchen comes complete with a dishwasher, refrigerator, gas stove, steam and standard ovens, a food warming drawer and a miniature wine cellar, but you’d never know by looking at it when it’s all closed up.

Slide-Out Platform Room Set

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This all-in-one furniture set from Matroshka packs down to just thirteen square feet at its most compact, yet it contains everything you need for an entire studio apartment, including bookshelves, double bed, corner couch, dinner table, four stools, workspace, drawers, a wardrobe and extra hidden storage. One piece after another slides out of the platform that supports the little ‘office.’

Mobile Fold-Out Office, Desk & Work Station

Fold Out Rooms Mobile Office
Wheels and a handle make this compact home office design ultra-portable, too. Made by Planet 3 Studios, this work module contains two desks and lots of drawer space, offering plenty of function when you need it, but it can easily be moved out of the way when you don’t.

Z Box Bedroom Cubes

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The Z-Box is perfect for lofts and other wide-open living spaces, offering a private bedroom or office with attractive wood-lined walls and ceiling. The components are small enough to be carried up stairs and fit through standard doorways. It includes built-in shelves, an open doorway that can be fitted with curtains, and even little nooks that could be used as pet crates.

Mobile Office Made of Foam

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This odd-looking mobile office made out of foam almost seems like a commentary on the transient nature of today’s job market. Created by Tim Vinke, the modular office set on wheels uses one of the chairs as a handle when it’s in transit. It’s easy to imagine pushing this thing into one office to start a new job, and then moving out just as quickly as you came in.

4 All-in-One Kids Rooms

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Modular sets are especially popular for kids’ rooms, especially if they can grow with the children or expand to accommodate additional kids. These loft bedroom ideas from IMA Mobili are colorful, with interesting layouts that include all sorts of slide-out components.

Fold Out Furniture Set

Fold Out Rooms Suzuki
It’s a lot easier to imagine being able to live comfortably in an extremely small space when you have access to furniture options like the Fold Out Furniture Set by Japanese students Toshiko Suzuki and Kentaro Honma. Individual components like kitchens, workspaces and bedrooms fold out from impossibly tiny wooden boxes on wheels.

BOLD Home Storage Solutions by AK47!

Unconventional solutions for home storage by Italian company AK47 make a bold, graphic statement on the wall or ceiling, turning everyday items like clothing, firewood, magazines and even food into decor. The 2012 home collection includes round wall-mounted shelves in black and white, a low coffee table with built-in storage and wall-mounted clothes hangers that can be arranged in artistic configurations.
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Flouting the tired convention of storing books and other items in vertical stacks, the Tubola storage system creates little wall cubbies that keep items up off the ground, and put them on display in individual groups. Available in a range of sizes, the shelves can be mounted like wall art.
AK47 Home Collection 5
The Zerino coffee table features a center cutout that can hold the object of your choice, whether a plant, candles or a miniature fire pit. The space between the two discs offers room for storage.
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The Bretell magazine rack puts your collection front-and-center, while the Tac wall-mounted clothes hanger brings your clothes and accessories out of the closet.
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Have a lot to hang? The Gang ceiling-mounted chain hanger can fit a lot of clothing into one small space, and would also look great covered in plants.

A 34-Story! Wooden Skyscraper & its Green Architecture...

If accepted and completed, this design would be the tallest wood-frame structure in the world. Counter-intuitive as it may seem, sustainable timber framing can be more eco-friendly than steel-and-concrete construction, which is also precisely the premise behind this competition entry that pitches wood as the primary building material.
wooden skyscraper building top
C. F. Møller (in partnership with Dinell Johansson and Tyréns) notes that wood is renewable and lighter, thus costing less in both money and fuel to transport. Many non-architects also do not realize that wood can perform better than steel in a fire – steel heats up and buckles, while wood first loses its water weight, then chars and resists the flames.
wood skyscraper exterior interior
Everything visible both inside and out celebrates the use of wood, from pillars and beams to ceilings, walls and window frames on each floor and in each unit. In turn, large exterior windows would also show off these wooden details to external viewers. At the building’s center, either wood or concrete could be used to form the service core. From the designers: “Wood is one of nature’s most innovative building materials: the production has no waste products and it binds CO2. Wood has low weight, but is a very strong load-bearing structure compared to its lightness.”
wooden skyscraper systems diagram
As a mixed-use development, “Social and environmental sustainability [are] integrated into the project. Each apartment will have an energy-saving, glass-covered veranda, while the building itself will be powered by solar panels on the roof. At street level there is a café and childcare facility. In a new community centre, local people will be able to enjoy the benefits of a market square, fitness centre and bicycle storage room. A communal winter garden will provide residents with an opportunity to have allotment gardens.”

The Art of Architecture!

Towers that seem alive, twisting and dancing with each other. An alien-like blob that looks like a UFO after dark. A building that’s literally a blur. All of these and more are homes,hotels, museums and cathedrals around the world created without any sense of restraint or desire to fit in. To say these bizarre buildings are unconventional would be putting it mildly – they’re almost too strange to be real.

The Tianzi Hotel, China

(image via: damn cool pics)
Could this be the weirdest-looking hotel in the world? Ten stories tall, the Tianzi Hotel in Hebei Province, China holds the world record for the world’s “biggest image building”. The three figures that make up its hulking shape are Fu Lu Shou – good fortune, prosperity and longevity.

Nautilus House, Mexico

(image via: dvice)
Fanciful and strange, the shell-shaped Nautilus House in Mexico City hardly looks like a home. But even though the inside is just as unconventional as the outside – with carpets of plants, stone walkways and entirely curvilinear surfaces – a couple and their young children actually live there.

Atomium, Belgium

(images via: o palsson)
The aptly named Atomium building consists of nine interconnected steel spheres that together form the atomic crystal structure of iron (magnified 165 million times, natch). Designed for the 1958 World Fair in Brussels, this 335-foot-tall wonder contains exhibition spaces, a restaurant and a dormitory for visiting schoolchildren with escalators connecting the spheres.

Cathedral of Brasilia, Brazil

(image via: wikimedia commons)
From the outside, this bizarre building hardly looks like a cathedral – but that’s exactly what it is, and once you step inside the beautiful and colorful stained glass affirms its identity. The Cathedral of Brasilia is made up of 16 curving concrete columns with glass in between them, and a glass ceiling.

Errante Guest House, Chile

(image via: beauty addict)
The word ‘unusual’ doesn’t quite cut it when describing this extremely odd building, which hardly looks habitable with its sloping surfaces. Details on this structure are fuzzy, but it’s certainly an eye-catcher.

Kunsthaus, Austria

(image via: annia 316)
Called the “Friendly Alien” by its creators, Peter Cook and Colin Fournier, the Kunsthaus Graz is an art museum in Graz, Austria built in 2003 for the European Capital of Culture celebrations. The blob-like structure definitely deviates from the typical minimalist style of modern art museums and at night, when it’s lit up, it looks unlike anything else in the world.

Blur Building, Switzerland

(image via: diller & scofidio)
From afar, it looks like little more than a strangely earthbound cloud. But get a little closer and you realize that it’s actually a building shrouded in man-made fog. The Blur Building in Switzerland is a suspended platform that sprays tiny drops of lake water into the air from 31,400 jets, creating the mist effect. The building was created for the sixth annual Swiss National Exhibition and can host up to 400 visitors at a time.

Tenerife Concert Hall, Spain

(image via: extra noise)
Who else but Santiago Calatrava could have created this sculptural work of art, the Tenerife Concert Hall in the Canary Islands of Spain? The dramatic curve of its sweeping roof gives it an entirely unique silhouette, especially when viewed from the side. Made from concrete, the auditorium connects the city of Tenerife with the ocean.

Kettle House, Texas

(image via: bizarre records)
Made of steel sometime in the 1950s, the ‘Kettle House’ in Texas has attracted many a curious tourist. The unusual choice in materials and shape was probably influenced by the owner’s previous occupation – building storage tanks for oil companies.

Casa Batllo, Spain

(images via: bert k, laurea)
One of Barcelona’s treasured buildings designed by the famed Antoni Gaudi, Casa Batllo is known locally as the ‘House of Bones’ for its flowing, skeletal stonework. With small balconies that resemble the faces of lizards and an exterior texture reminiscent of scales, perhaps it could more accurately be called reptilian.

Olympic Stadium, Quebec

(images via: nicholas nova, rene erhardt)
Built for the 1976 Summer Olympics, the Olympic Stadium in Montreal is now used as a stadium for the city’s professional baseball and football teams. Its centerpiece is the Pisa-like leaning tower, the tallest inclined tower in the world at nearly 575 feet.

Guggenheim Museum, Spain

(image via: dalbera)
Considered one of architect Frank Gehry’s greatest works, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain is a mass of random curves made from titanium, which resemble fish scales. Gehry says “the randomness of the curves are designed to catch the light”, and that they do, with a brilliant shimmer that reflects the sparkling water of the Nervion River.

Kansas City Library, Missouri

(image via: marnox1)
What could be more appropriate for a library design than making it look like books on a shelf? The Kansas City Library in Missouri features a façade of book spines, including Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, that fence in the parking areas which sandwich the historic building.

Federation Square, Australia

(image via: rob young)
Taking up an entire city block, Federation Square is an imposing collection of architecture, but there’s more than enough whimsy to balance out its sheer size. Reminiscent of Gehry’s Guggenheim Bilbao – albeit far more geometric – this building’s design was the winner of an international competition to create a new civic precinct in the center of Melbourne, Australia.

Dancing Building, Prague

(image via: ahisgett)
Hmm, what super-famous architect could have been involved in this building? That’s right, Frank Gehry had a hand in the design of the Nationale-Nederlanden building in downtown Prague, Czech Republic, which was co-designed by Vlado Miluni?. The building’s two main structures resemble a pair of dancers, hence its nickname – but it’s also known as ‘Drunk House’.

Cubic Houses, Netherlands

(image via: darksidex)
After many Rotterdam buildings were destroyed in WWII, architects had a bit of fun redesigning many areas in new, modern and sometimes surprising styles. The Cubic Houses are one example, designed in the 1980s by architect Blom. They’re basically standard houses turned on a 45 degree angle, each resting on a hexagonal pylon. The cubes are so fascinating that one owner decided to buy and manage a “show cube” to keep tourists from disturbing the rest of the residents.

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