Like it or not, the future of big cities will involve smaller living spaces. As land to build downtown becomes increasingly hard to find, the cost of it will just continue to rise. Mix that with a heavy demand for condominium suites downtown—which only seems to be rising as our increasingly lively city centre just gets more and more attractive—and something has to give: to keep suites affordable, they have to take up less space.

We have seen the trend of shrinking condominiums continue as the building boom has progressed, but few developers have embraced the micro-condo revolution already taking place in other world cities quite like UrbanCapital and Malibu Investments are doing at their new project on Queen Street just west of University. The difference here is the degree to which every aspect of the building and suites has been thoroughly thought out, and they are telling you that with the name: Smart House

Smart House presentation centre, image by Jack Landau

The 25-storey, architectsAlliance-designed tower will contain some very cozy units, the smallest starting at 289 square feet, while three-bedroom units can be as large as 778 square feet. The key to making small spaces work is to design efficiently laid out suites where the rooms are outfitted with fixtures that maximize the functionality: when there's a right spot for everything, space doesn't feel cramped.

Smart House scale model on display at the presentation centre, image by Jack Landau

The many custom created features that are included in a Smart House suite truly differentiate a it from what would otherwise just be a small condo. Rooms can have more than one function when the furniture that outfits them is designed to be there when you need it, but hide away when you don't. Fold-down Murphy-beds here feature bookshelves that stay level. Modular closet space means you probably don't need a dresser. Right-sized appliances carefully located amongst fold-out kitchen cabinetry, counters, and multi-purpose islands, all contributes to maximize every inch of space for the end user. The model suite vignettes on display at the Smart House presentation centre, staged by II BY IV Design Associates, paints a great picture of how thoughtful features efficiently maximize space.

Fold out kitchen cabinetry in its closed position, image by Jack Landau

Kitchen appliances, cabinetry and even a cutting board are all revealed, image by Jack Landau

Couches hide foldaway murphy beds, image by Jack Landau

Couch cushions are removed and the Murphy bed unfolds, image by Jack Landau

Even the bathroom fixtures have their pipes hidden behind the walls, maximizing space, image by Jack Landau

Even with all the creative use of space at Smart House, the micro-condo concept won't sway everyone. The older “two-car garage and manicured lawn” demographic will be a tough sell, but for the young, upwardly mobile, urban demographic, the housing format shows much promise. The size of condos is less of an issue for this group who live an increasing percentage of their lives outside the walls of their unit. They make use of the building amenities to relax, keep fit, and entertain guests. They also spend more of their time enjoying the vibrant urban surroundings with friends, and less of it focusing on accumulating 'stuff'. Some people call this a life edited, and Smart House makes that kind of lifestyle affordable for more people.

Amenities at Smart House, image courtesy of UrbanCapital and Malibu Investments

We will come back to look more at editing life, but in the meantime you will find additional information and renderings for Smart House by checking out our dataBase file, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Head over to one of the associated Forum threads, or add your voice in the comments section provided at the bottom of the page.

Related Companies:  architects—Alliance, II BY IV DESIGN, McIntosh Perry