The perks of city living, such as short commutes and proximity to world-class culture and nightlife, have long persuaded homeowners to compromise on aspects of their accommodation. With limited space for expansion and development, demand will always outweigh supply, particularly in the most desirable neighbourhoods of the world's biggest capitals. Recent years have seen the popularisation of everything from micro-apartments to iceberg extensions, but one mogul believes he has a found an innovative space-saving solution that could make a huge difference to future home design.
Simon Woodroffe, founder of YO! Sushi, recently unveiled the first YO! Home. Currently at the prototype stage, developers are hoping to launch the futuristic flats in Manchester as early as 2016. Taking their cue from Japanese minimalist design, the studio apartments will offer luxurious living in a tiny space by concealing essential furniture in the walls, floor and ceiling of a studio flat. When required, a touch of a button is all it takes to reveal the apartment's secrets.
The large, comfortable U-shaped sofa is one of the room's only constants, but even that is transformed when the king-size bed descends from the ceiling and claims the space for sleeping. The dining table lifts out of the polished hardwood floor, leaving behind a foot-well and cushioned benches. The kitchen is concealed behind sliding cupboard doors, while under-floor storage ensures the apartment never seems cluttered.
It isn't just the UK that is experiencing a surge in interest towards micro-apartments; several American cities have been experimenting with the idea for a few years. San Francisco has reduced minimum size requirements for a two person apartment from 290 square feet to 220 square feet, while Boston, Seattle and Chicago have all agreed to allow developers to build micro-apartment complexes.
However, the YO! Home is being hailed as a significant step forward, thanks to its clever use of technology to create a truly multi-functional space. While the apartment itself sets a gold standard in concealed storage and clutter-free living, there are elements of its design that could be put to good use in many more traditional homes.
For example, sliding doors require less space, and work well in apartments with a modern or minimalist design. You can use them in the same way as the Yo! Home prototype does, to conceal shelving units and other storage, or install them in place of existing internal doors. Consider which parts of your furniture could also serve as storage space; wooden chests lend a historic air as coffee tables, while stairs can easily become bookshelves or drawers. When picking out new pieces for a room, look out for innovative young designers who have tailored their products for an urban market, creating table-and-chair sets that can fit compactly together to save space when not in use. If you're fortunate enough to have a high ceiling, consider adding a mezzanine level or platform.
Whether you're seeking a futuristic micro-home or a spacious family property, Engel & Völkers' years of experience in the high-end urban real estate market make us the ideal partner for your search. For more information, visit Engel & Völkers online or in-store.