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Space-Saving: 5 of the World’s Smallest Buildings

Small, they say, is more beautiful. And when it comes to housing, it's surprising what you can squeeze into a tight space. With the population of the earth now over 7 billion and our cities filled to breaking point, the 
Anderselite team took a look at five ingenious small buildings from the past and the present which may offer a solution to this big problem.

The Riverside House, Horinouchi. Japan
Long renowned for their expertise in micro-innovation and having to overcome the obstacle of having some of the most expensive housing in the world, the people of Japan are turning to an ancient building form in order to find new ways of accommodating themselves. Kyosho jutaka is a 13th-c concept which roughly translates as 'shack living' although today Japan's architects have, naturally taken it above and beyond expectations and developed what's called the Micro House.
 
The Riverside House, by architect Kengo Kuma has a footprint which is barely bigger than the average UK parking space, but which adequately houses two adults and a child. Taking advantage of a triangular urban in-fill plot, Kuma has created a contemporary living space which rises over two floors and epitomises high-spec city living, filled with natural light, elegance and comfort despite its diminutive 29.07m2 floor area.

The Quay House, Conwy, Wales
Measuring in with a floor area of just over 3m x 1.8m and a height which just passes 3m, Quay house is a tourist attraction which boasts the accolade of the Smallest House in Britain. Spartan and without an inside toilet, the house, which is a perfect example of a 'one-up-one-down', was once owned by Robert Jones, a fisherman who stood over 1.9m (6ft 3 inches) tall. The tiny scale of the house ensured that life for him was never lived fully upright.
 
The Little House, Toronto, Canada
Not many houses have their own website, but this tiny, cottage-style home, complete with decorative octagonal window, has gained a cult following recently, since being offered for sale. Measuring in at a tiny 2.1m (7 feet) wide and 14.3m (47 feet) long, it offers potential buyers a rather bijou 28.9m2 (312 feet2) floor area but does come with all modern conveniences. Originally built in 1912, this mini-home is squeezed in between its neighbours but is fitted out with a contemporary kitchen and bathroom and even boasts a separate bedroom with fold-down bed. Its high ceilings, basement area and parking for two cars give it a Tardis-like quality, defying the viewer to understand how all that house fits into that little facade.
 
The Newby-McMahon Building, Wichita Falls, Texas
Not everything is bigger in Texas, ma'am. The town of Wichita Falls has the dubious honour of being the home of the World's Smallest Skyscraper. Not that it was originally intended to be so. In 1919, 'property developer', J. D. McMahon, convinced investors to part with $200,000 of their money to create what was, in those days, a new-fangled skyscraper. It was to be the envy of Wichita Falls' neighbours and intended to put the city firmly on the Gold Rush map. However, such was their enthusiasm, the investors neglected to scrutinise the plans well enough and instead of their pride and joy rising a majestic 480 feet into the Wichita sky, it levelled off at a rather disappointing 480 inches, which is only 40 feet or around 12 meters. Needless to say, by the time the miscalculations were discovered, Mr McMahon had taken the balance of their investment and bidden a hasty goodbye to the Lone Star State, no doubt doffing his Stetson as he did so. Legal action later found Mr McMahon to be not guilty of corruption charges with the judge simply advising future property speculators to always check the plans thoroughly.

The Gap House, London, UK
Located in fashionable Bayswater and within a conservation area, the Gap House fits into a gap of only 2.3 meters, between two existing buildings. It's an outstanding example of contemporary sustainable architecture within an urban environment. Architects Pitman Tozer designed the 185m2 building to incorporate environmentally-friendly technology, such as passive solar gain, maximum insulation and rainwater harvesting to minimise its carbon footprint. This results in energy bills which are up to 30% less than other houses of a similar floor space. The house has four bedrooms which take advantage of the natural light offered by the front of the property. The central staircase is designed as a piece of sculpture and allows light into the centre of the building. A rear courtyard brings even more light into the living areas. Viewed from the front, it is reminiscent of 12 Grimmauld Place, Harry Potter's safe house, which vanishes from view when required; only those who need it know it's there.

Have you come across an interesting, out-of the-ordinary building during your career in construction or architecture? We know the UK has a few!

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