Designer Van Bo Le-Mentzel takes a philosophical approach to the small housing movement, devising plans for a portable living space that occupies just one square meter.
Originally from Laos, Van Bo Le-Mentzel came to Germany as a refugee and faced one of the most common problems that transplants encounter—finding a home. "Everybody should have their own house, with a window and a door. And it should stand wherever you want," Le-Mentzel says.
The struggle forced Le-Mentzel to think differently and his experiences helped him to craft this one-square-meter capsule, which includes a desk, window, and sleeping area. "I put it on wheels so you can make the whole planet your home," Le-Mentzel says.
Le-Mentzel spent a lot of time on airplanes and drew inspiration from their space-efficient design. The evolution of aircraft cabins helped him put the space into context.
While most of the house is straightforward, the spatial requirements for a bed necessitated a bit of spatial cleverness. When it comes time to sleep, One-SQM-House must be flipped onto its side.
"I love things that can change their function simply by just skipping the perspective," Le-Mentzel says. "People should do it more often."
Being a tiny enclosure, Le-Mentzel’s design contradicts the somewhat pervasive American housing culture that says "the bigger, the better." That fact is not lost on Le-Mentzel. "Most of people in America hate me because with this idea, I attack the core of U.S. identity: living large," he says.
Aside from a bathroom, the most basic form of living is possible within the One-SQM-House, which has sparked a discussion. "There are a lot of very intelligent people who discuss now, with the help of the plans, if we really need an XXL life. I say, ‘build more, buy less,’" Le-Mentzel argues.
The schematics for the One-SQM-House are available at zero cost online if you fill out an informational ballot that asks what you plan to do with the One-SQM-House. The idea is that if people can get it for free, they'll have the creative license to do what they like with it and push the envelope. Le-Mentzel also intermittently leads workshops that guide people through the construction process.
Yes, One-SQM-House is tiny, but it's already being used in some parts of Europe. The open source nature, and more people building it, has helped to improve the concept. Download plans for the house here and visit hartzivmoebel.de for more details.