Germany's homeless students turn to living in a box

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The Independent Online

The new Micro-Compact Home (M-CH) offers students a cosy six square metres of individual dwelling where they can sleep, drink beer and occasionally fit in a bit of work. It is a raised, entirely open-plan aluminium cube. Inside, three levels of "interlocking space" miraculously manage to contain a stowaway bed, desk, kitchen and a "completely normal" toilet and shower, even if it is in the doorway. Equipped with flat-screen TV, internet access and air conditioning, the M-CH is easily transportable and so small it can be parked almost anywhere.

Inspired by the tiny, box-like traditional Japanese teahouse, the M-CH has been developed by London-based architect Richard Horden with 45 students from Munich's Technical University. Micro-Compact Homes cost €25,000 to build, but the seven students who will move into a special pilot M-CH village in November will pay a mere €140 a month. They plan to stay there for four months and will be joined by Professor Horden himself. "I guess we'll see how long people really want to live in one of these things," he said.

The M-CH could soon be available to London students. "The German students who come to work at my practice invariably end up paying £150 a week to live in some really terrible bedsit," said Professor Horden. "It could be the perfect solution for students there, because all they have to do is roll up and plug in their iPod, and everything else is already there."

The M-CH has already passed perhaps its most important test. "Yes, we've already tried having a party in one," Professor Horden laughed. "We managed to get 10 people inside. I suppose it was a bit cramped. But the best kinds of parties always happen in smaller spaces."

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