The Real Thing
Fully overcoming the weaknesses of small homes.

Solution


This design is so named to address the prevailing opinion that as housing gets smaller, they are considered progressively poorer places to live, like ersatz houses.  At the same time most of the complaints about compact housing such as poor privacy, noise, cramped kitchens and bathrooms, lack of rooms for guests and storage or to work with tools etc. are in fact eminently soluble with appropriate design.  This is my attempt to design a home that can compete with and maybe beat wherever physically possible a suburban detached dwelling.  Plus being environmentally benign and affordable as I can get it.

Sorry about the lack of eye candy, but I hope the apartment that results from the design is the most operative concern here and I have very limited drawing capabilities with this computer.  The drawings are very rough and only meant to convey the general concept and spacing, for full design see the detailed description.  Some features I did not have time to draw in but are included in the description, and things like the thickness of shelves etc. are wrong.  Sketchup files below.

This is made to keep whoever lives in it happy for the next 25 years while also meeting all of Graham's (and the sponsor's) requirements.

I'm going to borrow the storytelling approach from the 24/6 entry fellow.

8:00 Am
Graham and his Girlfriend wake up and get dressed  using the clothes stored in the nearby shelf.  They are chipper and well rested, having sleep soundly without interruption from neighbors or traffic, as always no matter how bad their luck is in the neighbor lottery.

8:10 Am
Graham sets the machinery of cooking in motion with extra ease because the appliances are ready to use just after opening the drawer.  They enjoy a tasty and healthy breakfast as they catch up on the news on the TV.  There is no work of deploying or stowing any apartment components to do these things, except maybe turning the 31" monitor around if they didn't last night.

8:30  Am
Either his Girlfreind has left or is in the bedroom, and having stowed the bed is sitting in the bedroom on the couch with her feet up on the Piego table that were under the bed ready to use.  Either way they are both free to focus on work, because they both have acoustic and visual privacy.

12:00 PM

It's been a productive morning, as Graham readily achieved flow state, undistracted by any noises or screen glare.  A few friends show up for lunch and he deploys the spare piego that is stored under the bathroom in a drawer and moves some futons and a stool over from the bedroom.  He forgot to set the laundry going but he takes a second to do it now because the acoustic curtain blocks most of the noise anyway so it will not bother him or his guests.

6:00 PM
Our hero has braved downtown traffic with his perfectly functioning bicycle to buy food for a dinner party tonight and he appreciates having a real kitchen so he doesn't have to serve his guests re-heated catered food.  He needs a few of the folding chairs stored in the ceiling, so he flips the switch and down they come to a convenient height. He grabs them and flips it again so the box returns to it's place automatically.

10:00 PM
Everyone has a ball without thinking about whether they might bother the neighbors. Even with 12 people in the room chatting away, conversation is easily understood, and everyone loved the food.  Friends have been trying out the steam room, which seats 3 at once. 

2:00  am
Grahams friend grabs something he wanted from the reuse bin that he saw on the blog where a record of the additions and subtractions from the bin are automatically recorded, thanks him for it and leaves.
.
6:00 am
Some friends decide they'd better not chance the subway and decide to stay the, uh, morning over here.  They manage to deploy the hammock and sofa bed, and pull the acoustic curtain across to get some privacy and they appreciate the quiet it provides from Graham, who has an apointment on the umi and is presently causing breakfast to exist in the kitchen. He was able to go to bed at a more sensible hour because of the well sealed bedroom wall, and will not wake his friends from the office.



Several Years Later

Graham needs to move to another city and this jem is up for grabs.  Mrs Smith has a look at the place and signs the lease.  Mr. Smith groans when he hears how small it is.  Neither of them cares about all this environment stuff, but she tells him size costs money.  He expects this is the end of the ol' marriage though, they'll have 210 sq ft. each.

They move in and leave most of their stuff in a storage lot but are surprised at how much storage space there is.  They both sleep well the first night and go to work.
Before long Mr Smith figures he's finally not got the short straw for once, because the neighbors here are saints; the never make a peep, and they say that they don't even notice when he turns the volume up on the TV.

Eventually Mrs Smith tries the office thing, though she was about to get rid of it, and realises how nice and quiet it is in here, probably quieter than anywhere she has worked before.  Solid silence.  With that funny curtain drawn just right she can do a load of laundry at the same time and the noise is hardly noticeable too.  She has discovered there are plugs in the drawers so she "got lazy" and stopped taking the slow cooker, rice cooker bread machine etc. out of the drawer to use them.

One day they realize they haven't once felt the need to open the windows for fresh air, it just always smells so fresh and nice in here.  Mrs. Smith decides to try telecommuting, now that she has this nice place to work and there are tax benefits.  Mr. Smith thinks he's a real apartment ninja when he realizes the hook in the closet is a perfect place to put his bicycle instead of leaving it outside.  He decides to spring for a nice bike and uses it more often as a result.  They give away most of the stuff in the storage lot.

Smart metering has been implemented and they get their first utility bill, and think there has been a mistake.  After casually grilling the building staff, Mr S is delighted to find out this stems from the design of the apartment, and they can enjoy the low bills guilt free as long as they live there.  Their kitchen is even nicer to use than their old one.  One day Mr. S wonders why dishwashing and clothes washing machines are not more common in apartment buildings, it sure is handy to have one, which he didn't in his last apt, and it saves water and energy too.

 They are healthier than ever, sleeping and eating and exercising well, and in due course the Smiths are known for having the best parties around.
 (also a good argument for including a user manual with housing)

A few MORE years later..... well you get the idea. Actually it does matter a lot, but I don't expect any end of lifecycle, renovation, etc. problems.  The mechanisms are all durable and fairly simple too.


---------------------------------Full description----------------------------



Apparently it is not possible to upload documents here so I will have to put this in the description section. 


This design is so named to address the prevailing opinion that as housing gets smaller, they are considered progressively poorer places to live, like ersatz houses.  At the same time most of the complaints about compact housing such as poor privacy, noise, cramped kitchens and bathrooms, lack of rooms for guests and storage or to work with tools etc. are in fact eminently soluble with appropriate design.  This is my attempt to design a home that can compete with and maybe beat wherever physically possible a suburban detached dwelling.  Plus being environmentally benign and affordable as I can get it.


I apologize for the lack of eye candy but I would hope that it is the resulting apartment that is the most operative concern here.  I only  have sketchup and a trackpoint, and it's the first time I've used sketchup.  But honestly it seems to me like trying to design something so subjective without even knowing anything about Graham or even being able to even talk to him would lead to a lot of running around in circles.  I spent the bulk of the design time here on things that are more behind the scenes, many of which are usually neglected yet very important.  Unfortunately that has described energy efficiency to a T for the last few decades, and it usually still does, and we can see where ignoring it got us.

While the design below might seem complicated, I like the idea presented in a recent TED talk:  Embrace complexity and you will see simplicity emerge from it.

Also, I didn't have time to add many of the features to the drawing, this document is the real design, and the drawings are very rough and just try to convey the general concept and spacing of the things, ceiling storage etc.

Acoustics

First of all, no interior design can cover up a noisy environment, one that lacks privacy from the neighbors, or poor indoor air quality (or is badly insulated). I assume the rocklathe needs to be removed for the superinsulation so that opens up the possibility of more economical installation of room-within-a room (including an extra set of interior windows, but an inexpensive single pane that can still be opened) soundproofing using recycled cotton denim as the added insulation and a 6 inch gap, and rubber joist caps providing about 60 STC of sound isolation from neighbors and more from the street due to the brick.  Enough to really not be able to hear the neighbors or I believe traffic.   A curtain with cloth on both sides and a 6.4 mm core of recycled rubber sheet from Audimute is used to reduce the noise of the washing machine, dishwasher and kitchen appliances. Owens corning 1280 rigid rockwool board (Made from basalt), applied with stand-offs so that the boards are mounted 2 inches below the ceiling in the main area and if desired on the celling storage unit though that would cost you another 4 inches of headspace,r is then covered in a very thin and attractive material, providing highly effective sound absorption for a unique and excellent acoustic environment, much better than what is provided by acoustic tile.  It is very well suited to conversation at parties and enjoying multimedia entertainment.

Acoustic isolation provides a feeling of distance and size, so the interior curtain walls of the bedroom and office are made using QuietWood acoustically damped plywood, sanded both sides and painted to acheive the same appearance as drywall.  It provides much the same soundproofing properties as the usual 5 inch thick drywall-stud wall at only 1/2 inch thick.  It is also much lighter, making the wall folding mechanisms easier.  For more soundproofing you could add quietrock or greenglue and Ecorock but that seems like overkill and could be added later if desired.

The door to the hallway would be a double door with appropriate seals and, with both doors opening outwards to free up space in the entrance area for boots and shoes.  Single doors soundproof to 55 -60 db are available but they are very expensive.  To be able close both doors after entering  and open them both when exiting (since they both open outwards, closing the inner door first would make it impossible to close the outer door etc.) a suitable mechanism to connect the door handles so they rotate together is used, and door- opening force can be transmitted through it too.

 Adding a vibration break to the floor for the bedroom with a caulked or recycled rubber sheet seam would reduce footfall vibrations within the same dwelling.  The budget is very vauge so it is hard to decide exactly how far to go here.  You can always have more soundproofing for a price.


Finishes
Whatever desired Low VOC finishes should be used throughout.  The north (the door) wall and the outer wall of the bathroom are painted with Rust-o-leum magnetic paint primer before the desired finish, so magnets can be used to attach pictures etc directly to the wall.


Kitchen
  Restaurant food is still restaurant food, and one of the common complaints about compact living quarters is the "cramped" kitchens.  So New York or not, I am not convinced that most users would find a miniaturized kitchen adequate.  And this needs to be designed with a 25 year timeframe in mind, which means lots of other users besides Graham.  A full sized sink and 4 "appliance drawers" in which the appliance remains plugged in, ready for use are provided.  There is a safety cutoff switch that disconnects the power when the drawer is closed. A big cutting board is provided to cover the sink with if desired.  The lower parts of the kitchen storage is all drawers not the usual cupboards because cupboards at a low level seem to me to be less space efficient and more difficult to retrieve/stow items in.  After all required appliances and a (quiet model) drawer fridge under the sink are included, an ultrasonic washing basin is also included which can wash vegetables, or few dishes without detergent or hot water.  If required a waste pump  such as is often used for basement toilets can be used to transfer wastewater to the waste stack.  Or better yet the water could be pumped to the Aqus water recycler in the bathroom, but since it contains food waste that may be inadvisable without a more sophisticated treatment system.
Countertops are recycled glass or varnished NFS plywood.

Robot servants reside in a hangar at floor level.
 
Clarification: to implement the appliance drawers, simply omit the back wall of the drawer and put a panel just below the drawer's floor to separate it from the one below  to prevent anything from falling out the back from the upper drawer into the one below it. Then put a plug in the back panel of the drawer unit (it stays stationary) for that drawer and the safety switch.  The appliances cord should probably be bunched up and tied with a twist tie to shorten it a bit.

The kitchen can be hidden with the acoustic curtain.



Bedroom and office
The walls of the bedroom and office can be folded away, freeing up extra space for the 12 person party. The 31" monitor and Amina speakers are mounted on a panel of the wall with non-damped wood  or if more suitable for the speakers performance, glass or ecorock with a wood frame, and a double hinge, with one hinge axis along the left side of the panel  that allows the panel to hinge on the left edge like a door, and another axis so it can also be turned around in place, either facing inwards to the office for work, or outwards for use as a TV, and redirected to face different areas of the apartment.  It has acoustic door sealant material around the edges of the opening to maintain the acoustic seal.  The speakers are enclosed on the rear with sanded and painted plywood to give a clean white look on all sides, taking advantages of the capabilities of the speakers.

The office unit rests on the ground normally for solidity, but it is an independent unit with wheels that can be lowered so it and it can be rolled to the left to free up space.  It has it's own ceiling of 1/2 inch damped plywood that travels with it but no floor of it's own. Tracks on it's ceiling guide the motion of it's north wall with the 31" monitor in it while it's weight is supported by casters, and the 2 side walls swing in front of the desk, see drawings.  It is where it is rather than against the east wall because the noise of a diesel truck going by may still be heard, and noise would enter the office, but in the present arangement some further soundproofing is added by the spacing and the office wall.  When folded it is narrow enough it can be wheeled around to the south west bedroom by the window (the wall around the riser in the drawing is closer to the riser than shown)  However natural light is let in and there is some view through large inexpensive single pane glass windows on all four walls, and the bedroom wall (you could use the glass from the old windows) which also have blinds for when desired.

 The bedroom is where it is for similar reasons, as it is the quietest corner of the apt.  The office and bedroom do not share a common wall at their interface either, they each have their own wall, again for soundproofing including privacy this time as 33 STC is only the onset of privacy, but with 2 such walls there is ample privacy. The wall has a double hinge (use rubber sheet over hinge to maintain acoustic seal) and folds to the west when the bed is stowed, or to the east when the office is moved out of the way. I couldn't get sketchup to draw the wall so this is one of many places you have to use your imagination.

The bedroom has a murphy bed but it is elevated off the floor far enough that it can be folded down without moving the peigo table beneath it, so it also doubles as a room for one of a couple to get away from the other, or for otherwise achieving privacy during the day. It might seem unnecessary, but there is also a curtain for the bed, because for sleep hygeine purposes it is important to have a bedroom of sorts that looks and seems different than other areas.  Acoustic seals are achieved against the floor see drawings for details and the ceiling is easy, a lip/riser is added to accomodate the height difference between the east ceiling and the west while allowing the wall to fold both ways with appropriate rubber sealant material used, same as for doors in an industrial setting or home theaters.  Acoustic louvres are used to allow airflow, and one of the fresh air outputs is located in the bedroom to provide the freshest air as directly as possible, increasing efficiency by reducing flow requirements for the same air quality.  It is a sock type diffuse vent so there is no noise due to airflow, or draft.  Acoustic silencing is employed in the ductwork with rigid fiberglass boards, and a fairly quiet fan, to eliminate noise from the fan.


A common concern about working at home is that people will feel tempted to go back to the office when at home, or use the remainder of the house during working hours.  A time lock is optionally provided for the office door, and the X10 ( see below) can prevent the kitchen or other appliances in the home from being turned on during some hours.  Or you have to enter a 200 digit pass code to at least take the impulsiveness out of it.

Bathroom
  The bathroom is probably formed of a purchased steam room that is then modified, including more insulation if desired. A tankless wall mount toilet is used.  The sink is reinforced to support the weight of an individual sitting on it.  Wood panels fold down over the sink, with a suitable indent to accomodate the faucet, and below it, turning it into a seat for the steam room which along with a fold-down bench and the toilet seats 3.   As mentioned in the thermal design section, in summer the heat is vented directly outside, greatly reducing the load it would add to air conditioning and the heat from the steam room (or sauna) is put to use heating the house in winter, so it's energy consumption is not as bad as it could be.  The shower has a navy shower function in case anyone is inspired to use it.  A panel by the wall then folds down over most of the wet floor so you don't have to wait for it to dry before continuing to use the bathroom for other purposes. 

There is a liquid crystal glass window in the bathroom wall whose transparency can be toggled with a switch to avoid blocking the view of the window, a single pane and with a hinged plywood or foam panel 1.5 inches thick to cover it to reduce heat loss from the steam room, and for privacy while the bathroom is in use. 

     One of the ventilation air intakes is located in the bathroom, so it is by default held at a negative pressure compared with the rest of the house and it will dry quickly.  A small acoustic louvre is used to retain acoustic privacy while allowing some airflow if the door is shut, though it should be normally left slightly open. The vents both have a handy hinged plywood panel to seal them shut when the steam room is in use, improving efficiency and preventing any large amount of water vapor from entering the ventilation system. 

Water recycling
After water use in minimized, water from the shower, and bathroom sink is recycled with an Aqus water recycler, and held in a tank located behind the nearby shelving.  A demand pump is used to repressurize this water for toilet flushing and also laundry.  The water from the kitchen sink and dishwater is probably not recycled because it contains food waste and Aqus  ($300) only chlorinates the water.   I could not find a reasonably priced more economical system though you might be able to roll your own with ultrafiltration.  I believe

chlorination is required in the US, unfortunately excluding the use of

a sink-direct-to-toilet bowl type system, but this way shower water is also be recycled (with a water saving shower head I do

not think the flow rate should be too high, (the aqus might need to be

installed behind the south wall of the bathroom and below the level of

the bathroom floor, and accessible with a trap door probably from the

bedroom)) if chlorinated the water can be stored for some time and it can

be used for laundry too. 

The recycler tank should be insulated to prevent condensation from any cold water.  Maybe a recycled old hot water tank.

Bike and shoes
Nearby, the bike storage area is on the left of the entrance, with a shoe storage area under a seat, and on the left is more shoe storage under the bathroom.  The shoe storage shelf here is embedded in the front of a drawer, so the volume behind that wall area is not wasted.  The rolling toolchest is stored in a cupboard to the east of the seating area.

Above the door opens outwards, freeing up some space that the door would otherwise sweep out, for storing winter boots and shoes, which may be snowy or otherwise wet.  There is a hanger rod for coats above the seat and tool chest cabinet,  and a curtain could be provided to cover this area when desired to conceal the coats for a cleaner appearance.


Storage
Roughly 350 cu ft of storage is provided total, and there is room for a storage unit or something if desired.  A substantial amount is provided in 3 boxes, made of 1/4 inch ply or something similarly suitably, and 1.5 feet deep, that can be raised and lowered from the ceiling in the kitchen area by 3 separate electric winches, controlled by light switches in a nearby wall. Specific design on request. This alone provides 130 Cu FT and can easily be expanded greatly at the expense of headspace by increasing the height of the box walls. The ceiling is unusually high in this apt to begin with, so there is still plenty of headspace.  The bonhomme in the picture is 180 cm tall.  It is ensured during construction that the ceiling is of suitable strength in this area (room within a room, so the strength of the floor above is not available, staggered studs would be used instead).

Guests
The sofa deploys to a bed (could be a space saver one) and a well designed hammock and stand (or preferably the walls would be reinforced and attachment points used) is also provided, and acoustic privacy is provided by the acoustic curtain.  See Your Complete Guide to going from hammock fear to Hammock Love http://www.treklightgear.com/TrekLife/?p=756 . Hammocks are plenty comfortable if well designed.  The acoustic curtain is stored to the right of the couch and the track runs between the storage boxes on the ceiling, and is stored to the east of the couch, the approximate track path is indicated by a thin red line.  There is an alternate path it can also follow which allows it to go in a space between the laundry machine and the recycling center, blocking a lot of the noise from the machine.  It can also be used to hide the kitchen, and muffles the sound of bread machines or other appliances.  The drawing is very approximate, the tracks would be directly above the edge of the kitchen counter here.

Reuse and recycling
The reuse center is above the laundry and has a camera built in and every time it detects motion, a picture is automatically taken then posted on a blog producing a record of items added and removed that friends can peruse. Recycling, garbage and composting  are located nearby and close to an intake vent.

Clothes
A ventless washer/dryer is provided, I considered a centrifugal dryer, but apparently they wrinkle the clothes. One could be added later easily though. Vibration is not a problem, if the room within a room proves insufficient for the neighbors, a pneumatic cushion would be provided. Same with the dishwasher

Lighting
Daylighting is bolstered with a light sill on the northeast window and the kitchen counter on the southeast.  The sink is in the wrong place inthe drawing, it should be to the north so light reflects off the counter instead of going in the sink.

Floors
  Bamboo floors, with tile in the entranceway but not the kitchen, where the floor is instead throughly laquered for a good seal. 

Thermal
 Based on preliminary analysis I believe the radiators can be eliminated if the walls are insulated to R-10 ( saw Graham's post about not adding more than that due to potential problems with the brick exterior), and not replaced by any expensive under floor systems.  Instead the ventilation air is heated a few degrees when required.  If more detailed thermal modeling indicated it made sense, there would be an automatic proportional bypass in the energy recovery unit between the indoor fresh and outgoing lines which allows some of the air to be recirculated, so the airflow at the vents is adequate for heating in the worst case scenario without an uncomfortably high air temperature at the vent while at the same time not bringing in any more fresh air than needed (i.e. the ventilation system is capable of recirculating any desired fraction of the air). This would only be used on particularly cold winter days.   Careful capture of the house's waste heat and incoming sunlight is important as they can provide most of the heat most of the time.

As x10 capable programmable logic controller with ethernet connection to easily adjust the settings by PC ($350) does all control logic including for home automation, the ventilation system can be turned down when the user is not home or less so when asleep ( determined from x10 motion sensors and time of day) which I think will make the house heat-passive most years (more detailed modeling is required to be sure, but it's pretty close anyway).  Turning the ventilation system down in this way also saves a good deal on air conditioning requirements during some periods.  A seasonal bypass valve is also controlled by the PLC, and the ventilation system turned up to the max during appropriate periods, providing cost effective reduction in the AC load, because the AC is needed later and is no longer required sooner in the season, and colder night air can be used to provide some cooling (same theory a whole house fan). 

Ideally the temperature is allowed to fluctuate as much as you are comfortable with in the summer to improve the ability to store heat between day and night, and drop to some degree during the night in winter.

The waste heat of the ventless dryer is captured in winter using a container with 12 KG of PureTemp Vegetable based environmentally friendly encapsulated phase change material, then released at a suitable rate to use the energy effectively and avoid overheating the interior.  In summer a manual valve is engaged to vent the air directly into the ventilation exhaust line, and the PLC will automatically engage the bypass, venting the heat outdoors.  There is no lint in the exhaust because it is a "ventless" model so it is fine to pass it though the ventilation system.

The window blinds should be double sided, white on one side and black on the other, and switched twice a year, because it looks like this would make a substantial difference.

Even the smallest and cheapest air conditioner should suffice to provide the 30 Kw-hrs per day of cooling required.  Heat pump functionality makes no economic and little environmental sense because so little heating is required anyway.

Two small electric instant hot water tanks are installed, one under the sink in the kitchen and one in the bathroom.  Two separate ecodrain units are then used in the optimal position, before the hot water tanks, to provide probably >80% heat recovery.  The heating elements might need to be sub-sized to meet the electrical limitations of the apt but that's fine because they only need to output 20%.  Although I think the greenhouse emissions for electricity are higher in new york than for gas heat on a per Kw-hr basis, this system still has far lower co2 emission due to the high system efficiency. It also provides luxurious instant hot water.

Home automation
The X10 capabilities are also used for any other desired home automation tasks, maybe the mechashade curtains can be interfaced to it.  Other home automation systems were considered but are more expensive and add little.

Ventilation:  The healthy house standard apparently requires 0.35 air changes per hour( http://www.healthyhouseinstitute.com/a801-HowMuchVentilationDoINeed), but 1 or more is better (or 66 cfm), however ERV units are usually made for houses and can usually go up to 200-150 cfm.  Ideally a cheaper but smaller unit would be found, but I could not find one, so the the Lifebreath is used, it has the best efficiency of the exchanger based ones, and a washable core.   An HRV would make more economic sense though. 

The extra airflow capability can be taken advantage of for cooling. The ERV and extractor fans etc.  Are located in a unit above the bathroom and entranceway ceiling, which is soundproofed with greenglue and ecorock.  The ventilation system bypasses air that is too humid, in case the steam room is run and the intake in the bathroom intakes too much water vapor.  The ventilation outlets are flat sock type diffusers, one supply is in the bedroom, another is on the south wall by the office.  Intakes registers are located in the bathroom and above the recycling and garbage area and a third above the couch to reduce the exchange rate requirements most of the time (closeable vents might be desired for the one near the garbage in case the system's recirculate function is used). 

The bathroom and kitchen fans (required by code) are quiet and might be left on accidentally so they use wall timers instead of switches.

Other
Plants are added as desired and the PLC can control watering with a small pump or solenoid valve over x10 and therefore be under the control of your PC, or some sort of reservoir would be built in to the plant pot.

Preferrably all wood should be NFS certified, and the drywall should be EcoRock for low embodied energy.

Importantly, the home needs to be satisfactory to subsequent users for the next 25 years.  So the design should a least not lock the user into a specific lifestyle and more than it has to.  For this reason I spent reletively little time on e.g. where the chairs would be stored or the wall color, but there is clearly sufficient space and I think a spare peigo would fit under the bathroom, and chairs can go in the bedroom.  For cost, the folding walls are custom but they require only average handyman skills to produce so the cost is not too high.  The most expensive part is the soundproofing, but it's I think the cheapest way to do it. Unfortunately soundproofing is expensive.

I didn't make use of the fire escape because I assume that is prohibited by the fire codes.
 
sketchup files :
http://www.mediafire.com/file/qj85vw1lvbax2qb/LifeEdited-SKPplan.skp
http://www.mediafire.com/file/xzcn1gb134c1qia/LifeEdited-SKPplanstowed.skp
http://www.mediafire.com/file/i26t1bsu8a1fwvd/soundproof%20office.skp

Update: The ceiling mount boxes might for example be powered by an  $80 ATV winch, with a pressure plate above them, which when pressed stops the winch.  The winch already has a limit switch to stop it when fully unwound during lowering.  With appropriate wiring and a DPDT wall switch that is all that is needed so they are not expensive or complex.

Also, I have been looking at the other designs.  My interest in and knowledge of small spaces and the complaints about them comes from the "tiny house" movement which I have been interested in for some time.  There is a whole community of people here living in small spaces successfully, and the criticisms and problems are of course much talked about, and I don't think it makes long term sense to ignore what people who are already living in this sort of space are saying.  That's good on the ground information.....

Other entries in this project