The owners of this 45 sqm apartment in Hong Kong are Eric and Lory, a busy young couple who often travel for work. They have a son and a grandmother who comes to take care of the child when his parents are not home. The original residence had only two bedrooms, and there was no separate room for the grandmother to take a rest. There was also no room for the family’s live-in maid. So Eric and Lory asked the local studio Sim-Plex to redesign the apartment and add two extra bedrooms.
The new layout comprises a spacious living room with a small kitchenette and dining area, a master bedroom, a son’s bedroom, a maid room, and a bathroom. The maid room also serves as a storage room. The fourth bedroom for the grandmother is temporary — if needed, the living room can be divided into two parts with a hidden sliding folding door. This door has louvers at the top for ventilation and glass panels to let the natural light pass through to the kitchen.
Due to the busy lifestyle of the apartment owners, Sim-Plex decided to design it with a zen-like feel utilizing the outside scenery framed by the windows as a calming element. “Urbanites are busy working, and they are always eager to have a decent and quiet living space as an escape,” said Sim-Plex founder Patrick Lam. “Zen is a spiritual state that pursues inner peace and harmony. It is the healing agent that washes the mind and irritability.”
The architects lifted the entire living room on a platform so that the residents could sit anywhere on the floor. In addition to a lot of storage space, the platform hides a lifting coffee table for tea ceremonies or casual meals with spectacular views. There is a similar platform in the bedroom, where it serves as a desk chair.
Smart home technology is one more way to make the life of Eric and Lory easier. The architects say that smart homes became common in Hong Kong in recent years because the tremendous workload of the citizens made it impossible to manage their homes. In this apartment, smart features are everywhere. Voice-activated technology allows the residents to open/close the curtains, turn on/off the lights, lock/unlock the door, and raise and pull down the coffee table. Curtains, screens, and the security system are all controlled by apps and remotes.
One more aspect of the design is its compliance with the principles of Feng Shui. Eric is a keen practitioner of Feng Shui, so the apartment is designed according to his view. Thus, for example, there are two TVs in the living room — a bigger one in the living area and a smaller one in the kitchen for balance. Eric also claimed his family owes one of the five elements — wood. The material distribution of the maple veneer on the storage cabinet wall is a hidden expression of the word wood.
Sim-Plex: “Although the traditional Feng Shui aesthetics and smart technology seem to be contradictory, if applied properly, they also have their compatibility.”
This article is a part of the ‘Compact Living’ series. You can read about other designs of compact houses and apartments on this page.
TITLE: Smart Zendo
LOCATION: Coastal Skyline, Hong Kong
TOTAL FLOOR AREA: 45 sqm (492 sqft)
DESIGN: Sim-Plex Design Studio