Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Living Big

Narrow apartments in Japan.

I have never understood until recently how people could live in such small apartments such as those that exist in New York or Japan.  As shown in the picture above, apartment buildings are sometimes three meters narrow.  Your entire apartment could be as small as most others bedrooms.

The secret to living in such an claustrophobic environment is to live close to all your amenities.  Downtown becomes an extension of your home, and what could be a better living room that a cities downtown.  My girlfriend and I had the opportunity to live in a downtown Edmonton apartment building for 8 months last year.  Our apartment was south facing, right on jasper ave.  It was a 2 minute walk to our grocery store, and we had the amenities of downtown Edmonton in our backyard.  Even for the state of Edmonton's downtown, it still had a wealth of activities to offer.  We had the legislative grounds, the river valley, and Churchill square were within walking distance.  We lived in one of the main bar districts, and had another one across the river.  The majority of festivals would take place in Churchill square and the parades would pass by right in front of our apartments. 

People these days are starting to focus more towards creating experiences with their money rather than being obsessed with physical possessions.  If you can strip away your need to own things, this sort of life style is more than manageable.  Everything you need is usually downtown, for laundry you go to a laundromat.  To do your work you can go to a coffee shop armed with your laptop, most cafes will provide Wi-Fi for free, you just have to purchase a coffee or snack.   Most recreational equipment like skates, skis, roller blades, bikes, canoes, soccer balls can be rented, so you won't have to own those.  If you need more space, most cities offer large parks in their downtown, such as the river valley in Edmonton or Central Park in New York City.  If you need to watch a movie you have movie theatres available for your use.  If you need to host a dinner party you can use one of the numerous bars or restaurants available.

In order to attract residents towards living in these sorts of spaces, developers have to ensure that they design the space smartly.  You cannot facilitate the same penny pinching practices that contractors employ.  You have to make the space seem bigger than it actually is, with high ceilings and higher quality materials.

By utilizing your city as your living room, living big is possible in small cramped spaces.

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