Could you live in a 4-foot-wide home?
The world's narrowest dwelling challenges the concept of just how much space we actually need.
Wedged rather nondescriptly between two existing structures in Warsaw, Poland, sits the world's narrowest house. While the home is a mere 4 feet wide, it's a fully functional space where one can live and create, outfitted with only the most necessary accoutrements. Dinner parties would be difficult, if not impossible.
Named the Keret House after Israeli writer and filmmaker Edgar Keret, who was its first inhabitant, the house is the vision of Polish architect Jakub Szczesny, who sought to broaden "the concept of impossible architecture."
Szczesny works for a firm called Centrala, which is devoted to experimental architecture. He conceived the idea while strolling through Warsaw, where he noticed an opportune crevice between a prewar apartment building and an 11-story postwar co-op. “I fell in love with a space between two buildings from different periods,” he told the New York Times. “I decided to make a link.”
Szczesny filled a void between the two buildings built during two important periods. “The first is a brick building on Zelazna Street – a fragment of the pre-World War II city, almost no longer existing. The second – a cooperative concrete apartment building, an element of an 'imposed structure,' which was aimed at negating the previous city landscape. Their adjacency is coincidental – like many architectural structures in Warsaw," Szczesny told Arch Daily. "Keret House is a perfect example of the so-called 'non-matching' in the city’s urban fabric.”
Although Keret House is technically an art installation – by Polish law it's too small to be a residence – the home provides temporary housing for traveling artists staying five to seven days at a time. This is probably also the average threshold one can tolerate living in such tiny quarters. While Keret House may be without windows – see what we mean? – Szczesny designed the home with high ceilings and a semi-transparent, polycarbonate exterior and roof so that natural light enters. This helps curb any feelings of claustrophobia, Szczesny explains.
So what does the house's namesake author think of the tiny quarters? “It’s something that is very, very compact. But it has in it all the stuff that a house needs," says Keret, who normally calls Tel Aviv, Israel, home. "The house will be a portal to all kinds of artistic initiatives."
Visitors access the Keret House by climbing a metal staircase from the street and then squeezing through a hole to enter the house. The ground floor contains an airplane-sized bathroom with a toilet and shower, a three-foot wide kitchen with a sink and cupboards, a table for two, and a bean bag sofa. The second floor is reached by a metal ladder which has a bed, a table and a chair.
Since opening in 2012, the Keret House has become a major tourist attraction in Warsaw. Visitors are able to tour the Keret House on select days, which can be found here. The nonprofit Polish Modern Art Foundation has underwritten the project. Funds raised by the foundation are allocated to the maintenance of the installation and to artistic initiatives at the Keret House, like this one in the video below of an Israeli musician who lived in the house for a few days:
Lindsay E. Brown is the managing editor of Eco-Chick, the web’s first ethical fashion, beauty and travel site for women. She has written for Whole Living Magazine, Edible, and Cottages & Gardens. Lindsay has been featured as a fashion and beauty expert on the Veria Living Network. Lindsay holds a BS in Global Business Studies and Marketing from Manhattan College, and received the 2012 Honors Award at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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