The clever use of space is increasingly important in today’s crowded cities. We take a look at how architects and designers have thought outside the box to create spaces that make the most of their compact, urban settings.

Meet Beatrice Simonsson

A moving space

VOLVO XC40 “I think people will be surprised how much space for their stuff there is inside this car,” says Beatrice Simonsson, group design leader at Volvo Cars. “There are lots of ingenious storage features, inspired by the research we did into how people in the city live. We were amazed at how much stuff people carry around with them in their cars. One of them even kept a barbecue permanently in their trunk.” The solutions created by Beatrice and her team range from the small – such as a hook that folds neatly out of the glove box to hang a bag or maybe your takeaway – to the large, like the storage compartment under the front central armrest. “The bin under the armrest is large enough to hold a full-size tissue box, because that’s what our customers want,” she says. “And there’s an area under the centre display where a mobile phone can be stored and wirelessly charged, which reduces clutter and makes it easy to reach.” Our customers’ desire for convenient, practical storage spaces led to the creation of unusually long, deep door pockets. Each of these is large enough to hold three one-litre drinks bottles. It’s a design feature that owes much to the ‘air-ventilated woofer’ speaker, mounted behind the dashboard. This is the first of its type in a production car, and means there is no need for speakers in the front doors. “Using space cleverly means making it flexible and accessible,” Beatrice says. That’s why the XC40 is available with a hands-free, power-operated tailgate, which means you don’t have to put down what you’re carrying ­to use the trunk – you simply kick your foot under the rear bumper to open or close it automatically. There’s also a foldable, removable load floor to suit differing needs, as well as rear backrests that can be folded at the touch of a button. “The XC40 is about practical solutions – finding ways to make people’s busy urban lives less complicated,” Beatrice says.