Commissioned by a renowned Feng Shui practitioner for his Oakland loft, this compact mobile dwelling cube allows the client to balance his personal and professional life in one space.
Bay Area Feng Shui expert, Liu Ming, was facing a dilemma: his 1,100 square-foot live/work apartment felt vast and deserted when he was alone, yet he needed more space for his growing Feng Shui classes. He was often forced to juggle his desk, closets and other hefty personal furniture to accommodate over 30 students. He sought an unconventional design solution to gain more space for his classes and streamline loft reconfigurations, while preserving his personal space.
Based on the Feng Shui principles of Yin (private and closed) and Yang (public and open), Ming’s essential personal activities of study, sleep, and meditation, are distilled into a compact, eight-foot cube. This mobile dwelling unit allows him to freely reconfigure the loft to suit his popular classes while securing his personal realm. The compact study and bed niches provide him a sense of coziness missing in the open industrial space. The high-capacity casters allow Ming to orient the Cube towards auspicious directions based on the Chinese lunar calendar.
To relocate the Cube to future spaces and minimize on-site fabrication, a steel frame and plywood components were prefabricated to fit through a standard 3-foot wide door, then assembled on-site within 48 hours. Simplified connections and building parts allow Ming to disassemble and reassemble the Cube with regular DIY tools.
Responding to the Ming’s preference for zen-modernism, the Cube was designed with simplicity, efficiency and a sense of discovery. The stair and cabinet doors, including a stair slipper-drawer, are concealed, subtly hinting at the openings. Humble yet expressive, Ash plywood panels were hand-selected for their unique grain patterns that resemble Chinese ink landscape paintings and to complement the tatami mats.
Translucent roller shades, a shoji screen and frosted acrylic panels allow daylight to filter through the Cube, while responding to varying needs for privacy. At night the Cube illuminates like a lantern, casting playful shadows on the glowing screens.
Openings to the study and the bed are placed at opposite corners to create a sense of movement, emulating the flow of active Yang and passive Yin elements. Secluded from the activities below, the meditation/tea ceremony loft is accessed by the concealed stair.
The Cube responds to Ming's desire for balancing his personal and professional life in his live/work loft with its mobility, flexibility and efficiency. It manifests the fundamental principle of Feng Shui: ever-changing and rebalancing of Yin and Yang.