First, I saw Alberto tweet his design for the Wall Street Journal (below is the English version):
The yellow space is the size of the smallest "livable" apartment in Hong Kong, known as the "mosquito" apartment. Livability is defined by the real estate developers.
If you've lived in a tropical area like Hong Kong, you'll understand the obsession with mosquitoes. The itching for days! The sneaky little things that suck your blood!
In Manhattan, it seems like we prefer saying the shoebox apartment. By comparison, it's not that scary. It's larger in size too.
The graphic is fantastic as it offers various comparisons of everyday spaces, like a NYC parking space and a basketball court, for which many Americans have some sense of their proportion.
This chart leads me down an unexpected path. I found a set of very powerful photos, commissioned by a humanitarian association in Hong Kong. Overwhelming. Here's one:
Yes, that is the entire living space for this family. All of forty square feet.
This article describes the project, as well as links to a number of other equally astounding photos.
These photos are unfair competition for any graphic designer.
Finally, I came across an inspiring, ingenious design. Gary Chang, who is an architect in Hong Kong, created his own apartment (344 square feet, almost 10 times larger than that in the photo, and twice as large as the mosquito apartment) in this amazing, space-saving design.
Through a series of movable walls, and beds, his apartment can be configured in 24 different ways. This is a small multiples layout!
Here is an article about his achievement, together with a video tour of his home. Not to be missed. It defines making something out of nothing.
Here is a little graphic describing certain transformations: