By Peter Lawrence Kane
The housing situation is beyond depressing. Forget about the evictions for a moment and focus on the apartment-hunters, combing Craigslist only to find situations where you have to sing for your supper (and from the couch). Space is at a premium, and San Francisco has real trouble building any more of it.
If you’re stuck in a tiny apartment that you’ve outgrown, you have to squeeze the most out of what you’ve got. Meanwhile, the first batch of those 220-square-foot “micro-apartments,” is coming soon enough to SOMA and Mid-Market, which means an ever-increasing number of San Franciscans have practical considerations to contend with. And they’re looking for more than just the noirish thrill of a Murphy bed. To that end, CityHome, a project from MIT’s Media Lab, lets you use the Force to rearrange your living quarters for maximum efficiency.
Not really – but almost. With a single hand motion or a voice command, CityHome can call forth a kitchen (with cooking space), a bedroom, a dining room big enough for six, or storage out of its central unit, effectively tripling a 200-square-foot space. The device, about the size of a closet, runs on internal motors and can move over a few feet in any direction as needed. It’s pretty neat and comes with lighting that, according to the video, you can apparently program for a “home rave” setting.
CityHome is a prototype looking to become an actual product, although the cost seems to be kept under wraps. It would require some forethought on the part of city planners to integrate these modules into whatever buildings they approve, seeing how San Francisco’s micro-apartments will have their own kitchens already. The cooking surfaces would therefore be redundant, but who wouldn’t want more counter space? Even if you have to move that KitchenAid mixer or bowl of bananas every time you take a nap.
Making more with less is definitely the wave of the future, so there’s certainly a niche for CityHome in S.F. – even if you’re basically sleeping inside a robot who is also your roommate. But how about an accent wall, at least? That all-white thing can feel a little dystopian. Or like IKEA.