storage with a view


Consider the cost of spatial constraints, and the sacrifices both accepted (and asked of others) to deal accommodate them. Of all the ways people react to limited space, some of them even vary by season. Some windows in highrises around urban China are equipped with cages – sometimes installed for security reasons (both to keep young ones inside and outsiders outside), sometimes meant to afford the installation of air conditioning units, and sometimes just built to claim an additional a square yard/meter or two out of thin air (at a cost to none, unless your sensibilities are offended by shimmering protrusions of aluminum as you walk the streets).

If your apartment comes with such a setup, a common practice is to store odorous perishables in them, such as fresh fish from the market.


Such cages and grating, beyond affording natural food refrigeration, also take on forms that allow for other activities as well. In one massive university dormitory in Chongqing, one can observe the practice of using window grates to store bottles before taking them down en masse to the campus’s recycling center in return for a deposit. Notable that it was only this particular dorm that was equipped with grating that afforded this type of recyclable sorting and storage, but that the practice was almost universal across all the windows of the dormitory building. Curious to know how the storage of bottles in this manner changes how the occupants of that particular dormitory’s apartments manage their recycling behavior, and funny to think of the physical configuration of a building being responsible for changing how people recycle.


If anything, this serves as a small but compelling case of practices being adopted through proximity, observation, and various social/financial pressures (consider the implications of not saving plastic bottles for recycling, or the motivations behind saving one’s containers privately instead of publicly).


Finally, lest you think window-grate-based storage is only a Chinese phenomenon, below is an exterior shot of an apartment building in Copenhagen, Denmark.


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