A kotatsu or chabudai is a form of table unique to Asia and, in particular, Japan. They offer a novel furnishing option in contemporary homes that is particularly well suited to the efficient and flexible use of small housing spaces.
Traditional forms are simple low height tables (chabudai) set in the center of a tatami mat room. They often have (kotatsu) integral electric heaters and a blanket skirt to help those seated around them keep warm when a room is cold -one of the simple yet brilliant inventions of Asian culture to deal with drafty cold houses prior to the invention of modern heating. However, this form is a bit cumbersome for westerners unaccustomed to sitting on matted floors.
The Utilihab kotatsu is a pop-up table element used in combination with a sub-floor enclosure box fashioned from the alloy or HDPE modular planter boxes used with the standard deck and walkway system. This allows one or more of the standard floor tiles to be fitted with pop-up legs so that they can be raised up from the floor to the kotatsu table height. However, the box enclosure fit into the sub-floor space allow one to sit at this table in the conventional western fashion. Seating cushions with a folding back support (like a painter’s easel) allow for conventional seating. And the same kind of kotatsu heater can be installed in the table underside to warm the under-table space if desired. Using additional box framing under the floor deck enclosed with underfloor paneling, is possible to box-in large areas of the underfloor surface if desired, allowing for kotatsu tables of any size or shape or for floors with fitted floor panels to turn any series of floor tiles into pop-up tables as desired.