IDS 2015: Cubitat by Luca Nichetto and Urban Capital

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A new plug-in concept for small-space living debuts at the Interior Design Show in Toronto. 

Italian designer Luca Nichetto and Toronto developer Urban Capital are known for “out of the box” concepts. From the former’s Fondue lamp, inspired by the cheese cauldron, to the latter’s super-small Smart House micro-condominiums, we have come to expect the unexpected from both. So to keep us on our toes, they have switched gears to think inside the box.

Cubitat, a new take on modular homes, can be seen at Toronto’s Interior Design Show, running until January 25. The perfect cube was delivered as a single block which packs all the central functions of a home into one unit, tucking away a bed, kitchen, bathroom, laundry and plenty of storage behind a monochrome-Mondrian assembly of doors and drawers. “It’s architecture as product,” explains David Wex, co-founder of Urban Capital, “a plug-and-play version of a home that you can take with you when you move.”

The displays that surround the installation suggest the cube could simply be hoisted and slid into an existing apartment. It may seem a little far fetched, but the unit is actually based on real-life concepts. Wex’s River City 3 tower, currently under construction along Toronto’s waterfront, features floor plans based on a central island housing an interior bedroom that closes up like a storage container. A kitchen and other amenities wrap around it. The idea goes as far back as the 1998 project Century Lofts, which placed all the services in a single block that divides the living and sleeping spaces.

Materials for Cubitat could be customized. Studio Nichetto chose Laminam porcelain for the kitchen and bath, warm wood for the bedroom and living room and a silky, matte laminate from Fenix for the exterior. “It’s soft and tactile and with the wood it makes you feel at home,” says Alberta Pisoni, head of interiors at Nichetto Studio. Were it to become a reality, the surface options would be limitless.

The logistics of loading and unloading 28 cubic metres between condominiums is not an easy task. The version on view at IDS was built offsite atop an oversized steel dolly and slowly jacked up to lift onto a truck for delivery. Pisoni says the cube could easily be broken into sections and assembled on site. “Fitting the bathroom in was our biggest challenge. The only way to approach it was to start with that, and place everything else around it. There’s no reason why it couldn’t be built with that as the central piece, with smaller cubes plugged in around it, like a giant Rubick’s cube. Just plug in all your ’colours’ once the middle is in place.”

Cubitat is on view at the Interior Design Show in Toronto, until January 25, 2015.

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