"Smart" micro student houses set to go ahead in Sweden


September 10, 2013

Swedish architectural firm Tengbom has come up with an accommodation model that squeezes student living into a compact 107 sq. ft footprint

Swedish architectural firm Tengbom has come up with an accommodation model that squeezes student living into a compact 107 sq. ft footprint

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Swedish architectural firm Tengbom has come up with a creative new accommodation model that squeezes student living into a compact 10 sq m (108 sq ft) footprint. The Smart Student Unit aims to offer an inexpensive and sustainable housing choice for students in Sweden that could reduce the current residency rents by half.

The Smart Unit is built from locally sourced materials such as cross laminated wood and comes equipped with multi-purpose living spaces and furnishings.

"Through an efficient layout and the use of wood as a construction material the rent is reduced by 50 percent and the ecological impact and carbon footprints is also significantly reduced," Tengbom's Karin Bodin told Gizmag.

The cozy unit features a dining area, kitchen, study desk, a swinging lounge, elevated sleeping quarters, bathroom and a small outdoor patio. Many of the unit’s "smart" features have been built into the structure. For example the dining table and desk both double as window shutters and the wall shelves can also be used as steps which lead to the elevated loft.

"We wanted to show how quality can be achieved without space. And how wood can be used in a modern way and contribute to the feeling," said Bodin.

Helping get the interior features right, the Tengbom architects worked closely on the design with students from the University of Lund. "The layout is very efficient and practical and students really find this an attractive alternative," added Bodin.

Although the architects have not specified the inclusion of photovoltaic technology, the large slanting roof does look like it could adapt nicely to the addition of solar panels. Furthermore, the unit’s thick wooden walls and double glazed windows should also help insulate the home, keeping it warm in the winter and cooler in the summer.

Overall the Smart Unit promises an innovative living environment for students complete with all the needs for single occupancy living, with the bonus of having independence and privacy. However, with a few tweaks the unit could also be re-purposed for a variety of other applications.

"For the moment we have designed it as a student unit," said Bodin. "But of course, with small changes it can be used as a guest house, office or hotel room."

Twenty-two Smart Student Units are set to go into production and will be ready for student use in 2014. In the meantime, visitors to Sweden can take a closer look at the prototype, which is on display at the Virserum Art Museum until December 8, 2013.

"From our point of view I can only say that all our visitors have seen a lot of different uses for the University Smart Unit," Barbro Wenden from the Virserum Art Museum told Gizmag. "Even elderly people say they would like to live in it."

Source: Tengbom via Designboom

About the Author
Bridget Borgobello Bridget is an experienced freelance writer, presenter and performer with a keen eye for innovative design and a passion for green technology. Australian born, Bridget currently resides in Rome and when not scribbling for Gizmag, she spends her time developing new web series content and independent cinema. All articles by Bridget Borgobello

I think that is a really nice. I like the brightness and the compactness of the little house. I would not mind parking my Smart Fortwo next to this smart house. :)


So if it comes in pink I am sure Barbie will take one! Seriously though, I think that those wall are way too thick for such a small unit and is not a very efficient design or green one at that. Perhaps they could make use of a better insulating material like sand or recycled styrofoam sandwiched between the plywood to give the same if not better insulating properties at a lessor cost. This would also naturally make for thinner walls which could either make the unit smaller or slightly bigger, then perhaps Ken could move in with Barbie???


What is the cost? And what were those green boxes in the kitchen area? Finally do the windows open to let in fresh air at night?


If you are going to build such a ludicrously small living space put it on wheels so I can pull it behind my car.


@JoeyHonda: your perception about the walls being too thick are skewed by the crappy US standards for walls. Insulation is key to make a dwelling both comfortable and energy efficient and the best way of doing it is to start with thick walls, not paper mache. Conversely, the US is crazy about needlessly wide tires which also do not serve a real need other than macho aesthetics - but at a huge cost.


Luckily being made of essentially single material will allow for easy upgrades and fixes of which I will name a few I can see already.

WIDER STAIRS!(at least on the first few steps) Those are way to precarious, only a rockclimber would know how to use the handrail "space" on the left to avoid falling to the right. And even a rockclimber would have trouble after returning from a few pints with classmates. A handrail bar(like for seniors) would also do wonders.

Windows - This design appears to be setup for side by side configuration but then the windows would not allow for any light even if the places were spaced a couple meters apart hardly any direct light would get through most of the day so minimal passive heating or lighting. Skylights would do wonders for all these issues.

Safety - With the cooking space being located at the front door and embedded into a wooded counter it has the potential to block the only exit during a stove fire trapping someone in a flaming wooden box especially if the housing units are right next to each other. A Skylight that doubles as a door hatch would grant easy access to roof in any emergency scenario, providing the person can climb up the stairs before treated wood smoke overcomes them. Sprinkler system would probably be a good idea too.


I like it, but with most multi purpose fixtures you have to clear them so that they can be used for another purpose, problem of where to put to 'junk'. I like the thick walls as they look as if they are well insulated. The windows must open at some time. In all I think that it is a very well thought out idea, but as for 'seniors', I am one, I doubt that it was serve for long befor I fell of the stairs!!!!!!


Will they be selling these at Ikea?

Albert Feyen

Interesting to read the comments here! We drew this unit as part of a wood exhibition in collaboration with a manufacturer of cross laminated wood. It is a mockup of an apartment that will be realized as part of a multiapartmenthouse (this is showing one corner of the building). The mockup is just for show and is therefore not insulated and does not function as a dwelling and yes in the final project the windows will open! The building will follow passive house principles so the outer walls will be even thicker with insulation!

If you are interested in more information don’t hesitate to contact Tengbom Architects!

/Lina Rengstedt, assistant architect

Lina Rengstedt

I like the small and micro home movement. But I also feel they should be made to be additive by allowing sections to be connected. This would allow for starter sections that could be enlarged as families or budgets grow.
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