40 m2 in Tel Aviv | SFARO

Tel Aviv

This is a small apartment that was renovated to adapt to a modern lifestyle. It included a brand new kitchen, which was completely missing before. All the services are contained within one volume while the space pinwheels around it. The double corridor makes the space seem larger than it really is.



Potts Point Apartment | Anthony Gill


This is a tiny converted 1 bedroom apartment in Sydney, Australia. The architect used fixed storage shelves as the room dividers instead of walls. A raised platform for the children’s bedroom allows a hidden bed to be pulled out at the end of the day.



Shags of New York City; 1800s and 1900s tenements

Popilation of U.S. big cities grew tremendous in late 1800s and early 1900s, caused by urbanization, industrialization and immigration. Jobs in industry increased by 400 percent from 1880 to 1920 while 14 million people immigrated to U.S. in the same period.

In New York city, the population doubled every decade from 1800 to 1880. To accomodate this growing population, buildings that had once been single-family dwelliing were increasingly dividet into multiple living spaces. These were the first tenements, and in 1860s the first tenements were built specially to house large numbers of poor families.

Typical tenement block, with manduated fire excapes

Old-law tenements 

The conditions in the first tenements were very very poor and poeple lived in enourmously crowded situation. When the first tenements were built there were almost no law regulations. 1860s laws (the old las-tenements) mandated fire excape but little else.

A old-law tenement was  typically 25 feet wide by 100 feet deepand six stories tall. Built to accomodae 26 families in 325 square-foot apparments. (30 m2). Often these appartments had no windows, appart from the living room, which often was window looking out to a tiny light shaft or the, if not just another room in the same apartment. tenementlifeairshaftbathtub

tenement flat
Here is plan of a typcial tenement flat., from 1863 tenement, for twelve families.

 Each living room is 11 m2 and the bedrooms are  4 m2.   There were no bathrooms or actual kitchens in the apartments.  Cooking would have been done in the fireplace or coal stove in the living room.  Water for cooking and washing would have been brought up in buckets from a stand pipe in the backyard that served dozens of families, or a public water pump down the street. Privies or latrines (for the entire building) would have been in the basement or backyard, and be basically outhouses without running water, just a pit.

These were filthy and also dangerous places, so often people used chamber pots instead, especially at night, and it was common-place practice to toss the contents out the windows.

New-law tenements

There was a realization that in order to create apartment buildings for working people that were livable, they had to be larger, and there had to be larger light courts. Therefor, 1901 the so called new law passed.

The new-law appartments were still small, but there was a minium room size and earch room had to have a window.

Each apartment had a cross -ventilation, each room had a window, eahter that look out on the street or that look out into the courtyard. Note the shaft next to the stair, ment for venilitation but people used it to through their trash down.


Each appartment had a entrance was from a balcony with a stair, in case of fire.

There was running water in each apartment and there were baths in the basement.

1910 tenement kitchen class via shorpy

(a model tenement kitchen, seprate from the bedrooms, with running water and window)

Next decade tenement conditions improved, (even though people still lived in the old-law tenements cause of housing shortage)

Even though appartments were small, the kitchen, the largest living space, was seperated from the bedrooms. In earlier tenements you would have to walk through one room to get to the next, often a bedroom. In the model- tenements each room was separated, which meant you had privacy, if children was sleeping etc.

Buildings got balconies, to give people chanse to use and breath fresh air and couryards grew bigger, which was a save place for children to play  under superwise from their parents out the appartments windows.

(tenement with a courtyard).


A siheyuan is a historical type of residence that was commonly found throughout China, most famously in Beijing. The name literally means a courtyard surrounded by four buildings.

In ancient times, a spacious siheyuan would be occupied by a single family. Today, many remaining siheyuan are still used as dwellings, but occupied by many families.birdview

A siheyuan sometimes occupied by dozens of families.there are less than 10 square meters per family.Almost every family needs to build more rooms in the yard which will be turned into a narrow channel.



A family of four people may live in a room of 10 square meters, they made place for kitchen and eating themselves, the original room change into a bedroom which have a double bed , a bunk beds, two tables and a small sofa. After dinner table will be folded aside.




Yard filled with debris, but someone will still  plant some plants in the yard .There are public toilets in the streets, some siheyuan residents  build a public toilet in their yard .


The Favela

The favelas developed more than 100 years ago but at that time they were more temporary homes; later on they became more permanent. At first they were made of wood and corrugated zink and they were not that stable but now the primary material is bricks and this makes it possible to build houses on top of each other. This has also become necessary as there is no space left for new houses. Today many of the favela houses have electricity, running water and internet. Most people are happy living in the favela house mostly because they build the houses themselves and the house fulfills all their basic needs in only one room. As they build the houses themselves it can take several years to finish a house because they have to build the house in their spare time and they cannot afford all the materials at once.


The slums in Brazil are called favelas and this is a favela. The houses are home made and built close together to house as many people as possible. The roofs are used to gather rainwater.


The atelier ” Atelier Van Lieshout” have made several different favela houses for the people living there. This is one of them. Check out their home page for different favela houses: http://www.ateliervanlieshout.com/works/favelahouse.htm


A favela house under construction. The process is very slow because they build the houses themselves and they cannot afford all the materials at once. Nowadays the houses are made of bricks and cement. Previously they were made of wood and corrugated zink.


Different interiors of the Brazilian favela houses. They only have one room each and this room contains all the functions like: cooking, eating, relaxing and sleeping. Some even have a toilet as a part of the room.

South Africa


People are naturally drawn to cities for jobs and a social culture that doesn’t exist in outlying villages, but most people who move to the cities often cannot afford to rent apartments or buy homes there. Many people move into the outskirts into communities that exist solely by the will of the people. The areas around Johannesburg (known as Gauteng) and around Cape Town (Crossroads, Phola Park/ Waterfront, Tambo Square, etc.) are considered by the state of South Africa ‘informal housing settlements.’ These settlements are groups of shacks governed by community leaders who reside in them. What is unique about these areas compared to other similar places in the world is the culture of the people and the decoration of the spaces.


Despite of their unfortunate situation, the people who live here are proud of their space. The call it home and thus make the most of what they have. The people are also bound by a mutual respect for their neighbors and many times sacrifice their own resources to help someone they barely even know. It is a communal culture, where everyone exists for the benefit of someone else and all are struggling to live.

South Africa Scan-3

Residents build their homes with whatever scraps they can manage to buy or find. Common materials are wooden planks, corrugated iron or steel sheets, cardboard, plastic sheets, industrial tarpaulin, canvas, and even surplus advertising material. The interior or spaces is often covered in iconography from the South African commercial market because the material can be obtained for free or very cheaply. This type of “wallpaper” makes the spaces dynamic and colorful while at the same time hiding the imperfections of the self-built structures.

South Africa Scan-2

Generally, each shack is one or two rooms with most or all of the belongings in the main living area. Cooking, cleaning, and sleeping generally all occur within 15 square meters of space. Sometimes, residents will divide the space into two rooms, the second containing a small bed and personal belongings that separates the sleeping from the living space.

South Africa Scan-4

To conserve space, furniture is pushed against the wall and used for storage as much as possible. Often, a storage cabinet has no doors or drawers and is instead a series of open shelves sometimes with curtains as a visual barrier. This type of furniture makes the space easy to use as well as limits the expense on furniture pieces. You can tell from these images that the people here make the most of what they have and attempt to make the space as pleasant as possible through the arrangement of everyday items, decorations, and furniture.

South Africa Scan-1South Africa Sketch

This is a partial plan of the shack above. It shows the general layout of furniture within the simple space. Generally, a space like this can cost about 1500 kroner for four walls and a roof. This does not include floors, doors, windows, or a foundation – all of which the residents build themselves. Overall, the people of these shack settlements are proud of what they have in their homes and in their community. The bonds are strong between neighbors and every effort is made to create a complete and pleasing place to reside with a rich assortment of textures and color.

All of the images and information for this post were taken from Shack Chic by Craig Fraser and Doyle Design.