Use your apartment space better

Space may well be the final frontier, but it is the lack of it that is the daily challenge for many high-rise residents. 

While the Tiny House and Compact Life movements are promoting the virtues of stripped down living, many vertical dwellers don’t aspire to such ambitious minimalism.

In fact space, and specifically storage space, continue to be major bugbears for high-rise residents.

There are, however, some clever products emerging that use space-age technology to help vertical dwellers make their available space work harder for them.

One such range is movable internal walls, which are not as popular as might be expected. In their simplest manifestation, a wall, such as one dividing a lounge and a second bedroom, travels compactus-like along a predetermined pathway to the other side of the apartment. Depending upon direction of travel, this could increase the entertaining space or, by moving it in the opposite direction, reveal a work space, an exercise area or guest sleeping quarters.

Stepping up a notch, the moving wall itself may feature inbuilt storage, taking on the appearance of an integrated unit.

While there are several variations to these movable walls, some pivot to reveal entertainment units on one-side and work spaces on the other. One issue of concern is the physical effort required to slide these wall-units.

Enter ORI, which has announced that its new modular system will be available in 2017.

Deriving its name from origami (the Japanese art of folding paper), ORI’s offerings are interesting for two reasons.

Firstly, they utilise robotic technology to transform internal space, activated through the touch of a button – the harder the button is pressed, the faster the unit travels.  Included in this robotic unit is, on one side, a closet and a bed that retracts into the unit, and on the other side is a home office and an entertainment suite.

The second point of interest is that these transforming robotic units were the result of a partnership between MIT Media Lab and the designer, Yves Béhar.

In Australia, we bemoan the gap between the fine minds at our universities and the pragmatic needs of our economy. It is offerings such as those by ORI that show just how well this gap can be bridged with the right partnerships.

Over the next months, this column will keep watch on our universities and our local designers to discover Australian innovations that boldly go where none have gone before to the benefit of our vertical dwellers.

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