House in a Suitcase

In 1996, Barcelona architects Eva Prats and Ricardo Flores were hired to convert an old community laundry into a penthouse. At just 27 square meters (290 square feet), the space was minimal; it was also just a temporary home for the clients.

Since the owners- residents of Mallorca- only planned to use the space a couple weekends per month, they were also asking that the space involve minimal work (for their previous Barcelona home, they had covered the furniture in blankets when they weren’t in town to protect them from dust).

Prats and Flores (in collaboration with the Mallorcan architectural firm Duch-Pizà) delivered their solution in the form of two suitcases. Their “Casa en una Maleta” (House in a Suitcase) consists of two big trunks in the center of the room which can be opened throughout the day to satisfy daily living needs. One trunk houses a kitchen, counter & stools, cupboard and guest bed (+ plus reading table). The other trunk houses his & hers closets, a master bed, reading lights & tables and all sorts of storage nooks.

In this video, Flores takes us through a day in the life in a House in a Suitcase where the furniture reflects your every move.

Video via Kirsten at

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Noticias y Negocios - January 12, 2011 Reply

Absolutely amazing, though those pieces of furniture look very heavy to move, but I guess they’ll stay for quite a long time there.

alice - January 12, 2011 Reply

Interesting idea, though as a single person I’d much rather have everything up against the walls and have a larger open space with fewer broken sight lines. Might be OK for a weekend place but it would make me feel very trapped being in behind those taller structures. It is very functional otherwise and lots of inspiration to make something that would fit each individual’s tastes.

    SoPasCat - January 12, 2011 Reply

    I agree. The place would look more spacish if the kitchenette, beds & closets where against the wall. The place is cute but I don’t care for the set up.

SoPasCat - January 12, 2011 Reply

I like the apartment but the set up looks too crampt & busy. It would look better if most everything (or all) were against the wall. Then it would be a cute little cozy’n comfy place.

Agent K - January 12, 2011 Reply

It would make more sense if the dead space was utilized for something. Not practical to hide everything in shelves if it isn’t costing you space to just leave it all open. While the concept is nice, it just seems like disorganized clutter with a lid on it. It really wouldn’t allow you to live in a smaller home, it’s just an organizational tool.

Paula - January 12, 2011 Reply

Hah! Thinking inside the box. I’m not sure that you could design the same level of functionality if it were against the wall, but I’d like to see someone try.

    alice - January 12, 2011 Reply

    I think you could get just about all the functionality even against the walls, just have to reconfigure. The only thing you give up is having a corridor on either side so each person has their own hallway to walk in. One hallway is too many for me, two is twice as wasteful of space. There is nothing there that can’t do just as well side by side along a wall, especially if you put an installation across each 10′ end and leave the room open all the way across the centre portion. If each installation extended 8′ or 9′ towards the centre of the 29′ length you’d still end up with about a 10′ x 10′ open middle section. You might not be able to have the bed slide completely underneath a shorter installation but could compensate with a Murphy arrangement that would still allow space on each side for each person.

Erin - January 12, 2011 Reply

This is really inspiring and makes me think what i could do in my own little space. Way to take it to the extreme! Would prefer a bit of color or decoration to warm it up a bit, however.

ginmar - January 12, 2011 Reply

Yeah, and it didn’t seem like they utilized the up space, either. How about nice loft beds or seating, with the storage stuff in the supports? I love that kind of thing.

Roger - January 12, 2011 Reply

Those “trunks” are hardly small pieces of luggage. Both these rather large pieces of furniture take up most of that little room. It would have been less work to simply put the kitchen in a closet and cover everything with sheets after all. The “house in a suitcase” idea is rather deceptive. I would rather have things arranged around a room and leave the center open to make it easier to get around. Both these pieces of large furniture are bulky and break the room up in a way that’s really cluttered. I find this kind of Architectural thinking rather odd to say the least, but then maybe that’s just my American way of thinking.

Janice - January 12, 2011 Reply

Very cool!

Kate - January 13, 2011 Reply

Interesting idea, but I couldn’t imagine living there. It has less charm than a bus stop.

MJ - January 13, 2011 Reply

I saw this on another site and am glad it wasn’t just me that didn’t ‘feel the glow’!

Benjamin - January 13, 2011 Reply

I don’t see the point in most of the above criticisms. What everyone is saying that they would prefer what is usually found in small spaces. Fine. Go read about most other small spaces.

What I love about this is that it is a new concept that I haven’t seen before! I may not like every detail, but I like the stimulation it gives me to think in new ways.

My favorite idea here is the roll-out bed that is accessible from 3 sides. It would be so much easier to make in the morning or change sheets on than a bed only accessible from 1 side or a loft where you can’t stand on any edge. I don’t really know how people make loft beds when the only way you can get to the edges is from crawling around on the bed itself, in some cases squeezing under a sloping roof.

Thanks Kent for posting this thought-provoking video!

Mary - January 13, 2011 Reply

I don’t love the execution, it feels a bit like you’d be living in a closet. But it’s definitely an interesting idea. The rollaway bed is particularly interesting.

gf - January 13, 2011 Reply

watching the beds disappear reminds me of how much wasted space I have in the toe-kick area of my very average kitchen cabinets. a slim rolling or sliding drawer where the drawer front became the toe-kick plate… Lots of unused cubic inches, even in my very small kitchen. Perfect for linens or dish towels or extra plates or what-have-you.

Freth - January 13, 2011 Reply

Too austere and sterile. No decoration. You can tell that no-one lives there.

Elizabeth - January 13, 2011 Reply

Interesting idea, but I felt it lacked grace. A little color would make the place seem less sterile.

Suzi - January 14, 2011 Reply

No thanks! SOOOO claustraphobic, where are the windows? This is a walk in closet with a bathroom. No personality at all. For me the tiny house’s charm is all about cozy & sweet. This is sterile & uninviting. I think I could do a better layout & even separate the bedroom from the living area.

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