From sushi to your sit­ting room

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - 9 -

The ques­tion would have es­tate agents lick­ing their lips: how do you turn a one-room flat into a four­room flat? It’s also the puz­zle which Si­mon Woodroffe set him­self, and which he be­lieves he has solved.

How? By com­bin­ing the­atri­cal scene-shift­ing (he used to de­sign stage shows for Rod Ste­wart and Mad­ness) with Ja­panese slid­ingscreen tech­nol­ogy. Af­ter his time in mu­sic, Woodroffe founded Yo! Sushi in 1997, spot­ting a gap in the mar­ket for healthy Ja­panese food. When he sold his con­trol­ling in­ter­est, in 2003, it was worth £10mil­lion.

Given that Ja­pan crams even more peo­ple in less space than Lon­don, it’s un­sur­pris­ing that they have come up with some in­no­va­tive space so­lu­tions. A ho­tel was the log­i­cal next step. Then in 2008 he launched Yo­tel – pared-down ho­tels you can hire by the hour at Gatwick and Heathrow air­ports.

Now he is mov­ing into homes. Do­mes­tic space is grow­ing tighter than ever. Fig­ures from the Of­fice of Na­tional Sta­tis­tics show that it’s not only in Lon­don that the num­ber of peo­ple has in­creased over the past 10 years (from 7.3mil­lion to 8.2mil­lion). Over the same pe­riod, the pop­u­la­tion in New­cas­tle has grown by 13.2 per cent, in Bris­tol by 14.1 per cent and in Leeds by 17.9 per cent.

“The same thing is hap­pen­ing in cities all over the world,” says Woodroffe. “Which is why we’re not just go­ing to build brand new Yo! Home developmen­ts, we’re also go­ing to con­vert ex­ist­ing Sev­en­ties and Eight­ies of­fice blocks.”

So far he has got no fur­ther than a “Yo­to­type”. But he is con­fi­dent that, as cities get more crowded, his Yo! Home con­cept will catch on.

There’s no doubt­ing the in­ven­tive­ness of his de­sign. One minute, he is sit­ting in a sunken lounge area, feet up on a cof­fee ta­ble. Then he pushes a but­ton, and down from the ceil­ing comes a ca­pa­cious dou­ble bed, which fits neatly over the area, where he was just sit­ting.

Next a din­ing area opens up like a trap­door in the kitchen floor. Wall pan­els fold away to re­veal a steam oven, fridge-freezer, cooker, sink and dish­wash­ing ma­chine.

The of­fice desk dis­ap­pears into the wall, and a sin­gle bed emerges in its place. It is screened off by an­other wall-on-run­ners that turns the of­fice area into a cosy sec­ond bed­room. Don’t for­get the cinema screen, which can be con­jured down from above, and watched ei­ther in bed­room or liv­ing-room mode. The whole thing is spec­tac­u­lar, like a scene from Thun­der­birds.

“It is a stan­dard-size, sin­gle­storey apart­ment that mea­sures 80 square me­tres. But in ef­fect, it con­tains an 80-square-me­tre liv­ing room, an 80-square-me­tre bed­room, an 80-square-me­tre kitchen and an 80-square-me­tre din­ing room,” says Woodroffe.

“Plus, you have two cine­mas, one

Watch this space: Si­mon Woodroffe demon­strates a bed­room/liv­ing room trans­for­ma­tion in his Yo! Home ‘Yo­to­type’, top; which also has of­fice, kitchen and bath­room ar­eas, left

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.