World’s Thinnest House 24 Oct 12

Last weekend, the much publicized “world’s thinnest” house officially opened in Warsaw, Poland, and images of the skinny abode have been popping up all over the net. If you’ve seen the pictures, you might be wondering if the thing is really a home or if it’s just there as a statement. As it turns out, it’s a little bit of both.

The idea for the house came from Polish architect Jakub Szczesny who passed by the alley where the building now sits and thought it would be the “perfect spot for life to be inserted.” At the time, the space looked like nothing more than a thin path full of trash and rubble, but Szczeny had a vision.

That vision has now come to life as a 46 square foot micro-home wedged between two standard Warsaw buildings. To fit the width of the alley (which narrows as you pass through), the structure is only about 4 feet wide in front and shrinks to 2 feet wide in back. Remote-controlled powered stairs are used to enter the home and are drawn up when not in use to serve as part of the floor. Although the interior features put an ordinary minimalist to shame, it still manages to fit a bed, bean bag couch, bathroom, kitchen, table, and office space.

As for housing actual tenants, it seems the dwelling is technically an art installation and will only “host” temporary guests. The first in line is the building’s namesake, Israeli writer Etgar Keret, who “won’t live there permanently” but will “drop in from time to time, invite guests, create, etc.” Keret will use the home for three years and then other artist hosts are expected to take his place.

To Keret the house represents much more than a feat of engineering or a testament to simple living. For him it’s a memorial to his family who were forced to live in a horrifically small space in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II. In Tablet, a Jewish online magazine, he wrote:

“During World War II, my dad, his parents, and some other people hid in a hole in the ground in a Polish town for almost 600 days. The hole was so small that they couldn’t stand or lie down in it, only sit. When the Russians liberated the area, they had to carry my father and my grandparents out, because they couldn’t’ move on their own.”

Keret hopes the home, which gives the impression of having fought to “squeeze” itself into history, will be a reminder of his family and others who battled to do the same.