design

The super-skinny homes offering an attractive solution to crowded cities

Updated 5th January 2018
Credit: Steve King
The super-skinny homes offering an attractive solution to crowded cities
Written by Trudie Carter, Dezeen
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Extraordinarily narrow houses have long been a fixture in countries where land is taxed by width, such as Vietnam and the Netherlands, although Japan has established itself as the pioneer of the typology, thanks to projects like Tadao Ando's 3-meter-wide (10 feet) Row House, completed in 1973. Here, skinny houses are referred to as eel's beds or nests.
But today, with the global housing crisis impacting cities around the world, the demand for living spaces at affordable prices is on the rise everywhere, and architects are attempting to insert houses into smaller and smaller spaces.
To deal with the obvious issue of claustrophobia, layouts are designed with simplicity in mind. Internal walls and corridors are kept to a minimum, or sometimes removed entirely. Instead, split levels help to divide up spaces, while high ceilings and central atrium's help to ensure a good level of natural light.
Typical examples include Alma-nac's staggered extension to a 2.3 meter-wide (7.5 feet) terrace house in London, called Slim House, which uses oversized skylights to bring natural light in through a sloping roof.
Elsewhere, the aptly named Eel's Nest by Anonymous Architects is a 4.5-meter (14.7) wide house in Los Angeles containing no corridors. Residents instead navigate the building using stairs -- as they often do in Japanese homes.
For Saigon House in Vietnam, a21studio designed a series of house-shaped rooms connected by staircases and bridges -- an approach that led to the project being named House of the Year at the World Architecture Festival 2015.
While Stacking Green -- another house in Vietnam, this time by architect Vo Trong Nghia -- features a facade made up of concrete planters, transforming the wall into a vertical garden that can be enjoyed from both inside and outside.
Anonymous Architects designed this skinny house in Los Angeles dubbed Eel's Nest- because of it's unusual proportions.
Anonymous Architects designed this skinny house in Los Angeles dubbed Eel's Nest- because of it's unusual proportions. Credit: Steve King
Other designs take the trend for slender structures to extremes. Floating floors, ladders and nets all help to maximize space and light in a house with a 1.8-meter-wide interior, designed by Japanese studio YUUA Architects & Associates for a single resident in Tokyo.
But Polish architect Jakub Szczesny went even further with his 1.2-meter-wide (4 feet) house in Warsaw. Squeezed into a crevice between two buildings, the house is no wider than a single bed.
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