Warsaw’s Keret House – World’s Narrowest Home Is Just 1.2 Meters Wide

Wedged into the narrow space between two buildings in Warsaw, Poland, the Keret House is considered the narrowest home in the world. At just 36 inches across at its narrowest point and 48 inches at its widest, the house is barely large enough for one person to move around.

The unique living space is the brainchild of Israeli writer and film maker Etgar Keret. The gap between the two buildings was discovered almost six years ago, by Polish architect Jakub Szczęsny. He realized that it was just enough room to fit a house, so he decided to go ahead and build one. Coming up with a design for the tiny available space was tough, but the real challenges were ownership issues, building regulations and financing. Luckily, he managed to raise 70,000 euros (over $80,000) for the project and began the construction in collaboration with the Polish Art Foundation.

Photo: Polish Modern Art Foundation

Constructing the house was quite a difficult challenge – it had to be specially designed in order to make the most use of limited space. The framework was constructed manually off-site and slotted into place by a team of builders. Szczęsny was forced to do away with windows, and instead have sunlight come in through two holes in the bedroom wall.

“This was the biggest challenge of my life, because I’ve never done something as narrow,” he said, after the construction was completed in October 2012. The Keret House as it stands today is a two-floor iron structure, with a total floor space of only 46 square meters.

Photo: Polish Modern Art Foundation

The house does not offer much in terms of luxury, but does feature all the amenities of modern-day living. The bedroom consists of a single cot stuck in between two walls, while the bathroom is nothing more than a toilet with a shower head directly above it. Although there’s a small kitchenette, it barely has any space to chop, wash or cook. And eating leftovers is out of the question because the tiny refrigerator can accommodate only two drinks at a time. Keret cannot even invite friends for a meal – the dinner table sticks out of the wall and has only two fixed seats.

“Before I came here, I was very much afraid that it would be claustrophobic, that it would be dark, that I would feel like a sardine in a tin,” Etgar Keret admitted. “But I actually feel very comfortable. It is designed in such a way that there is a lot of light in it.” He now finds the narrow house inspirational, and says that Szczęsny has given “tangible shape to a crazy idea”.

Photo: Polish Modern Art Foundation

Keret insists that people need to get used to living in smaller spaces. “Research shows that we are approaching a social disaster because too much living space is built,” he said. “You don’t need that much space to live in, so it is worth considering building smaller scaled, cheaper housing.”

For now, he seems quite happy to be residing at the world’s slimmest home whenever he’s in Poland. And when he’s out of town, the house is used as a temporary residence by other artists visiting Warsaw. Meanwhile, Szczęsny has made it his mission to look for and fill building gaps in Warsaw and other cities like Berlin. Keret House, he says, is just the beginning!

Photo: Polish Modern Art Foundation