From concept to kit house, these unique 21st century compact homes are stacked with character.

We cherish childhood memories of clambering trees, bidding a hasty retreat to a treetop hideaway, but what if we could re-live the joy by hiding out on rooftops, or accommodate growing families by adding extra levels, Shibam style? Welcome to the new generation of moveable micro architecture.

KIT 24
Designer Karim Rashid's Kit 24 House is a 170m2 experimental living space. The 24-faced polyhedron - a metaphor of the daily cycle - is split into two levels and bears all the trappings of Rashid's trademark take on color. Custom designed candy-colored pink floors clash with transparent green wall partitions and techni-colored murals which adorn the ceiling of this futuristic life craft.

"This project gave me the opportunity to develop a kit house - a house that can be produced with simple minimal parts and tooling. I have always been interested in this notion of frugal housing, of housing that can be erected simply and quickly, that can be very inexpensive and democratic, and variable or customizable with little cause and great effect." Says the award-winning designer.

Photo credits; Arash Moallemi.

Werner Aisslinger would happily agree that his head is firmly in the clouds and one only has to look skyward to see where this German property developer and designer of the future has set his sights.

A fantastically far-fetched concept, this urban living space, aims to exploit prime real estate space in the city by taking advantage of the flat roofs of Berlin's tower blocks. "These rooftops represent a treasure of sunny sites in the centre of urban areas." He explains.

The prize-winning galvanized steel framed cubes are light enough to be easily transported to their high rise location - either by crane or helicopter - yet remain sturdy enough to withstand exposure to the elements.

This is by far the coolest caravan of the future. Years from now, will we be hooking up our holiday homes to the helicopter, and will the penthouse rooftops of today become the campsites of tomorrow? Things are looking up for the modern nomad.

Photo credits: Steffen Jaenicke

Electronically linked "intelligent homes" are no longer a novelty, as Adam Kalkin's Push-Button House superbly illustrates. At last year's Design Miami the artist cum architect garnered international acclaim with an innovative take on recycling steel shipping containers, objects more familiarly associated with haulage than housing.

Motorized walls unfurl at the push of the button, revealing a bijou luxury apartment, replete with sumptuous furnishings and a resplendent lacquer chandelier within.

The Push Button House is a continuation of Kalkin's earlier 'Quik House', where modified containers are pieced together create a uniquely sustainable, eco chic retreat.

Reminiscent of the technicolored Caminito in Buenos Aires and fellow compatriot Piet Blom's iconic 'Kubuswonigen' cubic homes of the 1970s and 1980s, Dutch designer Mart de Jong's Spaceboxes are adding to Rotterdam's geometric landscape.

The semi-permanent units, measuring 18m2 or 22m2 are efficiently kitted out as a fully-functional studio, complete with kitchen and bathroom, albeit a rather small one.

Each brightly colored cube is easy to move and install and is fully stackable, creating vibrant columns. Could this be the colony of the future?

City land prices may be at an all-time high, but trendy German urbanites are taking to the water in Floating Home's modern-day houseboats. Hamburg-based architectural firm Architekten Förster Trabitzsch are addressing the problem of overcrowding in cities
with Floating Homes, the unique, architecturally led marine homes which are bringing contemporary luxury and high design to city riverbanks.

Although the homes are stationary, they can be tugged to a nearby location by a large vessel (although canal bridges are an obstacle, due to each home's height.) With three sizes to choose - from 114.57m2 to 225.34m2 - these luxury homes are a chic alternative to the humble barge.

Set in the great American landscape, Olson Sungberg Kundig Allen's towering Delta Shelter is at one with nature. Made from a steel box, standing resolutely on supportive stilts, the 93m2 cabin is securely enclosed in a steel case which closes to form a sturdy protective shell when not in use.

Showing respect for the rural surroundings, architect Tom Kundig, for Olson Sundberg, has created a luxury wilderness retreat for the modern pioneer.

Photos; winter/dusk: Tim Bies. Light pics: Benjamin Benschneider


The Japanese have been extolling the virtues of simple, compact living for centuries. It was Tokyo's tiny tea houses and capsule hotels that influenced architect Richard Horden, professor of architecture, and his students to create the first m-ch - Micro Compact Home.

Looking for a pied-a-terre in the city, or student accommodation for the kids when they head off to college? The 2.6m2 micro cubes is an ideal of sophisticated, compact living for both business and leisure. Although the m-ch is a short term solution, Horden and his team hope to extend the project to devise a compact community, developing designs for storage and communal spaces.

Each fully furnished aluminum cube boasts integrated technology and superbly streamlined washing, dining and sleeping zones... a far cry from traditional campus life or the claustrophobic capsule hotels of Tokyo. Cubist culture is on the up!

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