Small Home Smart Home
Hong Kong

Form follows time

©Otto Ng

Michelle and Andy came to LAAB with a long wishlist. For their new apartment, they want to fit a full kitchen, a large bathtub, a home cinema, a gym, cat-friendly amenities, and plenty of storage.

We thought they got a big house, but turns out the new place is only 309 sqft. Because the couple wants to live in Central, which is one of the most expensive places to live in the world, they are hoping to resolve the small space issues through design.

©Otto Ng

Form follows time

To realize the couple’s ambitious plans, we have to think beyond static spaces. We consider time as an important factor and eventually design the space using a “form follows time” philosophy. Instead of thinking space as defined by walls, it is defined by time and human activities. This is best demonstrated by the bathtub area of the apartment.

The bathtub can be separated from the toilet so that guests can shower while other people use the bathroom amenities outside. With added cushions, the bathtub and sofa space can be combined into a two-tiered home cinema. The two-tiered home cinema can be separated into two guest bedrooms with built-in curtains.

©Otto Ng

These forms can also be blended. For example, one can enjoy the home cinema experience while taking a bath. The movable TV setup also allows those in bed to enjoy the home cinema experience.

We went through 30 design iterations and experimentation to achieve this level of spatial flexibility and coherence. Meticulous planning and artisanal craftsmanship are fundamental to achieving the design. Since all components, structures, and appliances are movable, only 3mm construction tolerance is allowed. Appliances and furniture are carefully sourced and designed to keep the flat looking neat and spacious.

Home smart home

A range of app-controlled technologies are installed, including the Philips Hue bulbs and the August smart lock. The lights automatically brighten the room in the morning and give the couple a gentle wake-up call. The August Lock lets the guests in by sending them an electronic key. Controlled by a mechanical system, the cabinets and storage can be opened and closed effortlessly.

Cat-friendly home

Michelle and Andy have three cats, Banoffee, Dumpling and Tuxedo. Built-in cat amenities are also designed so that the space is comfortable for cats. These include a cat run around the ceiling, a cat ladder, a litter-box hidden beneath the bathroom sink, cat food trays hidden in the kitchen cabinets, and a hidden den.

Materials, details, and mechanical systems are all strategically designed to keep the space dry, cleanable, cat-friendly, and free of undesirable smells. The cat toilet, for example, is equipped with its own ventilation system.

Japan Good Design Award


Perspective A&D Award

Best Residential (Best of Category)

Interior Design, Contracting, Transformation Design


Central, Hong Kong

309 sqft

Andy, Michelle, and their 3 cats (Banoffee, Dumpling and Tuxedo)

Otto Ng, Chun Hang Yip, Ricci Wong, Kathy Li, Happy Yam, Zion Chan, Kenneth Cheung, Honley Cheuk, Jason Choi, Venus Kwok, Anthony Lee, Hugo Ma, Kinmo Ng, CK Wong, Sian Wong, Phoebe Ng