Micro-apartments the size of mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed tiny studios for New York City are common in historically dense cities like Paris and Barcelona. Over the past few years I've filmed a Lego-style transforming flat, a unit with a walk-thru shower and fridge-in-a-drawer and a small space where the architect cut a hole in the roof to create an indoor/outdoor shower.
Quick sidenote: In New York City, I've filmed even smaller units: one of which I dubbed a "microstudio" in 2009, playing off the Spanish term "micro-piso." International press called it "Manhattan's smallest apartment" until I filmed another at just 78 square feet. All of my tiny homes are featured in my youtube documentary (for free) We the Tiny House People.
For my most recent European tiny apartment, I visited the home of architect Valentina Maini, who wasn't interested in typical small space solutions like lofted sleeping quarters or murphy beds. She wanted her 25 square meter home (269 square feet) to look a bit more conventional, but to stack functions.
She hired a carpenter to create a dining table that slides over a matching bench to create more room for guests (she's had 20 over for wine and cheese). She didn't stop there. The bench also slides to reveal a full-sized bathtub: her micro-spa. Valentina filled her need for leg-less chairs using traditional zen tatami chairs that can be placed above her bathtub/bench for eating or reading or removed for bath hour (or used to create a viewing lounge outside her balcony window).
Not interested in the daily work involved in a transforming bed, Valentina simply raised her mattress a few extra feet and set to work creating a closet below. Recycling three large cabinets from her former work place (her tiny pad is now also her home office), she created sliding drawers for clothing that tuck within sliding drawers for the cabinets that all tuck neatly beneath her sleeping quarters (though if she'd had 20 centimeters more in height she would have created a hanging closet within the cabinets).
Watch Kirsten's feature-length documentary on tiny homes: "We the Tiny House People: Small Homes, Tiny Flats & Wee Shelters in the Old and New World."