In 2005, third-grade-teacher Eric Schneider bought as big as an apartment as he could afford in Manhattan. He paid $235,000 for a 450-square-foot studio with a tiny kitchen.
Then he let architects Michael Chen and Kari Anderson of Normal Projects design a way to pack more density into his small space.
In order to fit more apartment in a small footprint, they created an object that’s bigger than furniture, but smaller than architecture and that morphs with the changing activities of a day.
It’s a large, blue, oversized cabinet that houses all of the walls/bed/tables/shelving/closets needed for at least 4 full-sized rooms.
By continuing to unfold, or fold differently, Schneider can create a bedroom with accompanying built-in nightstand and closets, but an office plus library, a guest bedroom, and a living room. Or close it up entirely and simply flip down the small bar and the room becomes entertaining space for a dozen.
The Normal Projects architects called their creation the Unfolding Apartment, though given Schneider’s affinity for the Japanese sense of space (he spent his first year post-college living and teaching in Japan), it could as easily be called the Origami Apartment.
In total, Schneider spent $70,000 total remodeling his new apartment and this includes not just the cabinet, but the bathroom renovation, all cabinetry, kitchen appliances, furniture and dishes.
In this video, Chen shows us his custom cabinet of rooms and Schneider unfolds a few of his favorite configurations: his bedroom (& closet/changing room), office (& library), guest bedroom, kitchen, dining bar, living room and lounge.