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06/12/2010 by architectural competitions


Design a jewel box of an ultra-low-footprint apartment in 420sf (~39 m2).


What if we could save money, radically reduce our environmental impact, and have a freer, less complicated life?

Treehugger founder Graham Hill has part of the answer: we need to have less stuff and live in smaller spaces, like the 420sf (~39 m2) apartment he will renovate in 2011. With some design and technology magic, we think 420 square feet can allow for working at home, space for 2 guests to stay over, a sit-down dinner for 12, lounge space for 8, and maybe even a steam room.

So we’re asking you to redesign a small space thinking about these core ideas:

  • transforming space – use one space for work, play, sleep, guests
  • digitize everything – photos, books, music
  • from ownership to access – think Netflix, Zipcar, Airbnb, etc.
  • only the essentials – cut down on extraneous stuff, leaving only what’s really necessary

The winning concept will be used in a renovation of a 420sf apartment in New York City in mid 2011. Ideas will remain online as reference, to inspire and encourage others to rethink how they buy, rent, renovate and furnish their future properties.

Task Definition

Create a design based on Graham Hill’s 420 sf apartment. The design needs to support the life of a real person in the apartment – someone who works, eats, lives, and entertains. We’re looking for apartment designs that allow for:

  • a sit-down dinner for 12
  • a comfortable lounging option for 8 people
  • space for 2 guests with some visual and ideally auditory privacy
  • a home office
  • a work area with space for a rolling tool chest
  • a hideable kitchen

As the room function is changed, it should not feel like you are sleeping in your office or eating in your bedroom. At the same time, it should be easy and quick enough to change the room function that one would actually do it.

We believe feedback and conversation can help you improve your ideas. You have the ability to post and update your entry at any time up until the submission deadline — and we highly encourage you to do so. In return, you’ll receive feedback from Graham, your peers, and our jurors.


Photos of the space we’ll be renovating are available in this Flickr set.

For those who have AutoCAD, DWG files are available here.

If you don’t have AutoCAD, there are still plenty of ways to get involved! Google Sketchup is a free 3D modeling tool with a huge library of pre-made components available. We’ve created the basic plan for the apartment that you can use as a starting point, available here.

Floorplans and concept sketches are also great submissions. Here are floor and elevation diagrams in PNG form, and more detailed ones in PDF are available here.

1 Comment

  1. Rizal says:

    I did the same to my bookshelf after I panteid it white, it looks so much better, if only I didn’t have so much junk Color organizing makes it look cleaner I think :-pBut yours look far better with all those pretty toys! 😀

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