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Column Adriaan Mout - Small but nice

16 December 2020

LEVS Adriaan Mout 201012 Klein maar fijn1

Recently Andy van den Dobbelsteen made a plea for the preservation of the post-war apartment block in his column 'Portico Love'. I share his love, based on my own experience of living in a post-war 3-room apartment block of no more than 50 m².

Whereas dwellings have been getting bigger and bigger since the 1950s, they have been getting smaller at a rapid pace since the beginning of this century. In his Arcam study of residential floor plans, architect Marc Reiniers already noted that in Amsterdam the average house size has decreased from 100 m² to 60 m² in twenty years.

There are technocratic reasons, such as the space for installations that has increased exponentially. Also influential is the steady rise of 1-bedroom houses of 20 to 30 sq. m. size. In Amsterdam they are being put up by the hundreds. The 2-room house, for which we used to reserve 60 m² not long ago, has stealthily gone down to 50 m² and now 40 m² seems to be the norm. And with the passing of the 50 m² boundary, we are also below the well-known building code standard, so we do not have to create outdoor spaces and storage areas. Form follows rules. The uniformity of the house plan has increased and creativity has decreased.

Another category of tiny homes on the rise are the Tiny Houses. Tiny, smart, in part ideologically driven homes. They are often detached and in peripheral areas. Using more floor height and a mezzanine and smart interior solutions, they create living pleasure on few square meters. If we can apply this kind of cleverness to inner-city stacked buildings, then ever-smaller homes can once again become attractive and surprising. We are already working on this and are discovering that this does not have to be at the expense of a simple repetitive building structure.

In search of the quality of the tiny home, stacked Tiny Houses and the secret of that 3-bedroom porch apartment at the beginning of my own living career. Intrinsic living quality designed with ingenuity, vision and love and also reproduced en masse. Truly small but beautiful.

October 2020