Theory
EEM 01 - 20 - 2010

Sustainability of small spaces While traveling from Seville to Barcelona, I never really knew what to expect on uor journey via an overnight sleeper train. We obviously knew it would be compact, but from the explanation and idea of it, we were under the impression that we would all be crammed and uncomfortable. Staying on the overnight sleeper was one of the most unique experiences that I've had, and the sleeper cabins were some of the most efficient use of small spaces that I have ever witnessed. Sustainable, compact design does not always have to be in the form of "green" architecture or urbanism. Sustainable design principles surround our life and imply the efficiency of a system for continual use over time. Small spaces provide a designer with many challenges; and creating something that has the ability to be used efficiently, and something that can function for the masses is a really interesting approach to the idea of something being 'sustainable.' The coach had five rooms, each able to hold two occupants. There were a few principles to the efficiency of the design that I identified: tucked away spaces, and spaces, utilizing and eliminating the corners, multi-use spaces, vertical stacking of elements and the ability to still be able personalize the small space. Our beds were bunked, and the top bunk could be folded up into the wall when it was not being used for sleeping. The bottom bed did a similar thing, however it flipped up to turn into a couch. The multi-functionality of these modular units helped expand the space while erasing any singular function and preconception of the function of the furniture. A similar phenomenon existed in the extremely tiny bathroom. We were barely even able to turn around and yet by utilizing the corner space as the place to put a shower, and orienting the rest along a diagonal opened up the space greatly as well as made room for storage. Storage above the bed bunks and above the bathroom gave us a very easy place to put the huge packs. The neatest feature of this sleeper train was the folding staircase located in front of the bathroom door. This functioned as a table, wall and staircase depending on how you turned our used it. So, not only is multi-functionality the key for efficient, sustainable small space design, but so is the ability to have tucked away spaces with vertical stacking. I decided that the best way to illustrate this sustainable small scale design was to show a section cut through the car space as well as a section through the way that it functioned as a broader unit through the train. The other drawing shows a plan view of the train so that it is clear what the function and size of the spatial relationships are. As you can see, it was a very, very small space with what was barely enough physical room for our packs. However given the efficiency of the design principles and the effective use of identified design principles, this small space had a very sustainable design that turned out to be quite comfortable!

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