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."