9x9 room challenge

If you thought 250-square-foot micro-apartments sounded small, imagine staying in a space less than 100 square feet in size. That was precisely the challenge faced in this project by Vancouver designer D Calen Knauf.

9x9 apartment wardrobe
wardrobe empty

Legally, these ultra-small urban units can only be leased for three months at a time by residents and essentially contain a sink station … and nothing else. They are temporary dwelling made available at the lowest possible cost, so materials had to be kept inexpensive yet durable as well.

The emphasis in their process was on modular and multi-functional elements, minimal storage just for essentials, and objects that nest inside one another or pack as flat as possible. Minimalist detailing reinforced this approach.

“Eighty one square feet is a small place to live, and a challenging space for which to design a furniture system.  In downtown Vancouver, where rent and space is at a premium, the client with whom we worked has repurposed old buildings to create single occupant dwellings.  These apartments have a sink station, and nothing else.  The developers wanted to make these rooms more livable in order to increase the average length of stay, which is currently only 3 months.  Their constraints: a permanent, durable system (no MDF allowed) and it had to come in under $500CAD.”

9x9 room detail

When working with a 9 foot by 9 foot room, almost everything seems to take up a lot of space, so visual lightness was a priority for us. We used wireframe-style construction to open up the room wherever possible instead of closed in panels. When flat panels were needed, we used bent steel for its low visual profile.”

9x9 room desk
9x9 room hanger

“By orienting the hanger rack so that the clothes face the user instead of the conventional method, the wardrobe unit can be pared down to 12 inches deep, taking up less of a footprint into the room. Even reducing visual clutter helps make a room seem bigger, so we included a cable well behind the desk so the user can keep important things on the desk and power cords out of sight.”