How Much Could You Do with 270 Square Feet?

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By Patrick Sisson
Taking its lead from a Swedish building code, a new book proposes ingenious concepts that can fit in 270 square feet.

The Swedish building code includes a unique provision that allows owners to build small, 25-square-meter (roughly 270 square feet) structures without much oversight, as long as they complement a standing home. Intended to allow for easy expansion of existing space, this rule inspired journalists Eva Wrede and Mark Isitt to use these cabins as a starting point for speculation and creativity. They queried a group of Swedish architects, asking for their take on the concept, and collected the results in a new book, 25 Kvadrat (Max Ström). From fold-up containers to space-age takes on log cabins, these proposals showcase new possibilities for freewheeling, small-space construction in a country already obsessed with free-standing cottages.

How Much Could You Do with 270 Square Feet? - Photo 1 of 7 - Ateljé 25 by Waldemarson Berglund ArkitekterThis archetypal Swedish building form, shaped like a Monopoly house, serves as an artist’s studio, with a simple plywood interior and massive skylights to let in natural sunlight.

Ateljé 25 by Waldemarson Berglund ArkitekterThis archetypal Swedish building form, shaped like a Monopoly house, serves as an artist’s studio, with a simple plywood interior and massive skylights to let in natural sunlight.

"A main home is like the album," says Isitt. "The smaller building is more like a pop single. You can experiment and not take things too seriously."

How Much Could You Do with 270 Square Feet? - Photo 2 of 7 - Arvet by Trigueiros ArchitectureThis unorthodox take on the traditional Swedish log cabin stacks angled wood pieces to create a curved facade. The build-it-yourself concept calls to mind Lincoln Logs; it can be assembled from a set of numbered pieces.

Arvet by Trigueiros ArchitectureThis unorthodox take on the traditional Swedish log cabin stacks angled wood pieces to create a curved facade. The build-it-yourself concept calls to mind Lincoln Logs; it can be assembled from a set of numbered pieces.

How Much Could You Do with 270 Square Feet? - Photo 3 of 7 - Ett Med Naturen by Marge ArkitekterEnglish for "one with nature," this relaxed structure with a built-in outdoor bench adapts to the landscape, with terraces spilling out over the ground.

Ett Med Naturen by Marge ArkitekterEnglish for "one with nature," this relaxed structure with a built-in outdoor bench adapts to the landscape, with terraces spilling out over the ground.

How Much Could You Do with 270 Square Feet? - Photo 4 of 7 - Bänkhuset by Wingårdh arkitektkontorSwedish for "bench house," this project would maximize space by running a bench around the perimeter of the cabin. The interior features other space-saving tricks, such as making the most of under-bed space.

Bänkhuset by Wingårdh arkitektkontorSwedish for "bench house," this project would maximize space by running a bench around the perimeter of the cabin. The interior features other space-saving tricks, such as making the most of under-bed space.

How Much Could You Do with 270 Square Feet? - Photo 5 of 7 - Hundra Kubik by Arkitektstudio Widjedal RackiPlaying off the Swedes' love of nature, this concept with a lofted bed opens up to the great outdoors, and is so flexible that it could be closed, folded up, and shipped off to a new locale on the back of a truck.

Hundra Kubik by Arkitektstudio Widjedal RackiPlaying off the Swedes' love of nature, this concept with a lofted bed opens up to the great outdoors, and is so flexible that it could be closed, folded up, and shipped off to a new locale on the back of a truck.

How Much Could You Do with 270 Square Feet? - Photo 6 of 7 - Vattefall by Bornstein LyckeforsThe title of this Brutalist-esque concept is a play on words, combining the Swedish name for waterfall and the name of the government official who came up with the idea for these 25-square-meter buildings.

Vattefall by Bornstein LyckeforsThe title of this Brutalist-esque concept is a play on words, combining the Swedish name for waterfall and the name of the government official who came up with the idea for these 25-square-meter buildings.

How Much Could You Do with 270 Square Feet? - Photo 7 of 7 - Kajakhuset by In Praise of ShadowsThis "kayak house" is a sleek boathouse with a utilitarian interior that can be adapted for myriad other uses. Constructed like Legos from similar pieces of wood, the structure is capped by two glass doors.

Kajakhuset by In Praise of ShadowsThis "kayak house" is a sleek boathouse with a utilitarian interior that can be adapted for myriad other uses. Constructed like Legos from similar pieces of wood, the structure is capped by two glass doors.

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