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This Apartment Is Designed To Pop Up In Parking Lots Or Abandoned Buildings

This house is so easy to move, it’s like picking up a suitcase.

If you can’t afford an ordinary apartment, maybe you can try living in a parking lot. Even a Google employee is already doing it, leaving the rest of us mere mortals resigned to our fate.

In Bangkok, where rents are quickly rising and young professionals often struggle to find places to live, architects created a simple tiny house that can easily pop up in a parking garage or inside one of the city’s half-built abandoned buildings.

“It is very difficult for young professionals to live with a bit of quality of life in the city,” says Rachaporn Choochuey, cofounder of All(zone), a Bangkok-based design firm. “We noticed the issue and want to offer an alternative way of semitemporary living.”

Because the climate is mild in Bangkok, the pop-up apartments are open and airy–something that Choochuey says is somewhat similar to traditional Thai design.

“Traditionally architecture was so light, so thin,” she says. “With modernization, we began to build following international standards, which are somehow too solid for tropical conditions. People ended up living in air-conditioned environments all the time, which is very absurd.”

Instead of solid walls, the structure has a lattice-like design that lets breezes pass through. “With the wall, we need as much ventilation as possible,” she says. “It is always too hot, not cold. . . . The perforated nature of the structure would be perfectly matched with the climate conditions.”

The lightweight building can easily be moved from place to place and set up in unused spaces, like the many half-built buildings in Bangkok that were abandoned after repeated economic crashes. Instead of signing a lease, someone would have a home they could bring along if they need to move. “It’s a bit larger than moving a suitcase,” she says.

When the architects set up a prototype in an abandoned parking garage, a couple of young designers volunteered to try living in it for a few days. Their verdict: It had some advantages over typical apartment living, beyond the savings in rent.

“There are also opportunities for community gathering, the exposure that living in a small apartment unit of a big building cannot offer,” Choochuey says.

The Light House is on display at the Chicago Architecture Biennial.

About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Co.Exist who focuses on sustainable design. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.

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