Environmentally responsible design is important in every aspect of our lives. A huge part of this is how we use our space. I read a recent article that wrote about how for the first time, 50% of the world's population lives in cities (http://www.unfpa.org/pds/urbanization.htm). This incredible urbanization is something that we all need to deal with, as there becomes less and less space.
In Midwestern America, this isn't something most of us had really ever had to experience. I remember for the first time my family had an international visitor stay at our home for a few months. Shino was from Japan, and this was her first time to the US. We have a four bedroom home, and so I took her to our guest room in our basement, and she immediately went to open the closet door because she thought that is where she was staying. The guest room was so overwhelmingly large to her that she couldn't believe the whole space was hers. In most areas of Asia, many people live in homes less than 400 sq feet.
Because of the environment I come from, I am used to a lot of space. Living in the place I do now, it's too big for me and I have a difficult time with upkeep. It's really just inefficient, and a lot of space goes unused. I think this is fairly common in our culture, particularly in the area I come from--Suburbia, the urban sprawl.
I came across this article last year (http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/01/domestic-transformer.php) and was reminded of it for this blog post. It intrigued me then, by the simplicity of its design and the pure efficiency of it. The article is about architect Gary Chang, who lives in a 300 sq foot apartment in Hong Kong and his excellent design solution on how to deal with his small space, and squeeze as much out of it as possible. If you watch the following video, you can see it at work: http://www.noob.us/miscellaneous/24-rooms-packed-into-one-tiny-room/. I felt like his design was great design because great design really is utilitarian in nature. It solves a problem and answers a question clearly, concisely and beautifully. His solution really made me think about space and how it is used, and how design can be applied to fix valid issues in the world.