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Tag: reconfigure your apartment

Even a tiny apartment can feel huge, thanks to motorized “slithering furniture” (or “slitherniture”). Replace your old furniture now!

Background:

It’s difficult to move heavy furniture around, so furniture is usually positioned for general use, even if there are specific setups that would be better for rare situations.

For example, your home might have a room that would be best configured in one way for watching movies, but a different way for a Thanksgiving dinner.

The issue:

Unfortunately, it doesn’t make sense to move your furniture around every time you want to watch a movie, so furniture is almost always set up in a “good enough” general configuration. Until now, that is!

Proposal:

If furniture could “magically” move around on its own, it would be easy to have a room reconfigure itself so that you could, for example:

  • Optimize a room for exercise / yoga (Figure 2a), with a large empty space in the middle.
  • Have a “poker night” configuration (Figure 2b) where seating is clustered around a central table.
  • Have a single wall in your house dedicated as an indoor climbing wall, along with a padded floor mat that would slide out from “nowhere” (perhaps from under a dresser or sofa).
  • Have a large dining table that can automatically hide itself away when dinner is over.

Various layouts could be saved as furniture presets (Figure 1) that would be accessible at the press of a button. (This would be similar to how presets work on a motorized standing desk.)

1-floorplans.png

Fig. 1: All four of these layouts contain the same furniture, except for the red futon, which is mysteriously absent from the Yoga Zone layout. Maybe it slithered its way into another room.

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Fig. 2a: An example “yoga” layout, where the center of the room is cleared. These 3D views were generated using the program “Sweet Home 3D” (http://www.sweethome3d.com/) on the Mac.

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Fig. 2b: A “poker night” layout, featuring seating is arranged around an uncomfortably-low coffee table.

 

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Fig. 2c: A “movie night” configuration that focuses on the television.

Method of implementation:

Each furniture leg would sit atop a motorized omni-directional wheel.

Any time you need to reconfigure a room, you just push a single button (perhaps labeled “THANKSGIVING DINNER” or “YOGA STUDIO”), and the furniture rolls into the pre-determined new configuration.

The furniture would need a few sensors in it, so that it would be able to detect unexpected obstacles / pets / etc. in the way.

It might be annoying to keep your furniture batteries charged, so the motorized furniture could automatically seek out power outlets and charge itself overnight while the homeowner is sleeping. (As a proof-of-concept of this idea, the Roomba vacuuming robot is capable of automatically returning itself to a charging station.)

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Fig. 2d: This is what the room above might look like in an awkward but perhaps “good enough” default configuration that isn’t optimized for any specific use case.

Conclusion:

You should throw out all of your existing furniture and get new Internet-connected furniture with powered wheels.

The problem of dealing with plugged-in electronics (like a television or set of speakers) is left as an exercise to the reader.

PROS: Even a small apartment can now feel enormous, since it can be reconfigured for every use case.

CONS: This “Internet of things” furniture will probably be hacked by someone who will randomly move your furniture around just for amusement.

6 Baffling Apartment Arrangements You Won’t Believe Are Real* (* they are not real)

The issue:

Many modern apartments are extremely well-built structurally (or perhaps even over-built), but have terrible interior layouts.

Unfortunately, it is extremely expensive to reconfigure a floorplan, even if no load-bearing walls (or walls concealing wires or plumbing) need to be modified. For maximum cost-efficiency, a person interested in remodeling could potentially just take a sledgehammer to these walls, but the final result would be unlikely to be aesthetically appealing.

Sometimes, a floorplan would ideally change due to a change in the number of inhabitants of an apartment. For example, the optimal layout for a single individual is unlikely to be the same as the layout for two or three people. Or, perhaps a particular room is rarely used, and its space would be better applied toward extending another room.

Proposal:

One way to make apartment-reconfiguration simple would be to allow the walls to be moved. The method proposed below uses a number of independently-movable standard-sized wall panels and requires no tools to change the apartment configuration.

The general idea is:

  1. There is a track laid out in a grid pattern in the ceiling.
  2. A number of wall panels hang from this track. These wall panels can be slid and rotated along the track.
  3. The wall panels can mesh together to form a complete wall. See details below.

movable_walls_diagram

Fig 1: A movable wall panel.

Figure legend:

  • A (green): OVERHEAD ANCHOR: The wall is secured to the track overhead by a component that is too large to fall through the track (B).
  • B (orange): OVERHEAD TRACK: The entire ceiling is criss-crossed with a grid of tracks. Similar to track lighting, but these have to be much stronger since they are supporting the weight of the wall (and potentially anyone who leans on it / pushes it.
  • C (blue): SOUNDPROOFING / OPTIONAL WINDOW (TOP): To allow the wall to slide around, it must not be securely attached to the ceiling. Once the wall has been moved into place, the “soundproofing” component can be pivoted into place and secured flush against the ceiling, where it can apply upward pressure to secure the wall, as seen on the right side of the diagram.
  • D (red): SOUNDPROOFING / PRIVACY FLOOR PANEL (BOTTOM): Similar to “C,” except this component secures against the floor instead of ceiling. Aside from preventing a person’s feet from showing from under the wall, this component also helps securely anchor the wall panel to the floor by applying downward pressure.
  • E (purple & white) WALL PANEL: The movable wall panel itself.

Additionally:

  • Power outlets only exist on the immobile edge-of-floorplan walls and in a few ceiling / floor drops. This means there is no need to worry about wiring in the movable walls.
  • Overhead lights (if they even exist) are triggered wirelessly and can reconfigured to suit whatever room arrangement is desired. That way, light switches (which can also be wireless) can be reconfigured to match the actual lights in each room.

Meshing walls together:

The edges of each wall panel have yin-yang shaped “genderless” connectors that allow any panel to securely mesh with any other panel, regardless of orientation. (These is similar to the types of connectors used to link railroad cars, which can be attached regardless of orientation.) Note that no specific additional fasteners are necessary.

movable_walls_connectors

Fig 2: Overhead view of two wall panels meshing together. The connections can be made between any two panels, in any orientation (i.e. there is no “polarity” in the connectors).

The secret you never knew!

Layouts in practice:

The only real restrictions are the exterior walls, windows, and any “permanent” rooms (ones with plumbing or unusual electrical requirements). Additionally, due to the grid-like nature of the track and the connector types, walls will probably only fit together at 90° angles.

(It might be possible to design a track (and perhaps expandable walls) with a mechanism to allow arbitrary angles, but this is unlikely to be worthwhile in an apartment that is already bounded by rectangular external walls.)

movable_walls_layout_no_walls

Fig 3: A blank layout with two “fixed” rooms: the bathroom (“BATH”) and kitchen (“KIT.”). The red mark on the left side is the entry door from the shared apartment hallway. The blue region on the right side represents outward-facing windows in the apartment complex.

The kitchen and bathroom require plumbing and built-in features (and cannot be easily moved around), so they are assumed to be fixed. Despite these restrictions, this apartment could be reconfigured in many ways.

Several options are shown below. Bedrooms are numbered.

movable_walls_floorplan_ideas

Fig 4: Various layouts that are possible by moving the movable walls (indicated in brown) around on the overhead tracks. Bedrooms are numbered “1,” “2,” and “3.” Note that a one, two, or three bedroom configuration is possible. Blue = windows.

PROS: Would be amazing in every respect.

CONS: Might allow architects and interior designers to slack off if they can fix layout issues “in postproduction.” It would probably be a huge hassle to move a bunch of wall panels around in a furnished apartment.