News Home & Design Redesigned Urban Loft Has a Hidden Multifunctional 'Box-Bed' This space-saving idea opens up a cramped apartment. By Kimberley Mok Kimberley Mok Twitter Writer McGill University Cornell University Kimberley Mok is a former architect who has been covering architecture and the arts for Treehugger since 2007. Learn about our editorial process Updated July 8, 2021 04:45PM EDT Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process Share Twitter Pinterest Email Wim Hanenberg News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive Whether it's Paris, Sydney, or New York, major metropolises around the globe have an existing stock of older buildings that could very well be preserved and rehabilitated for new housing, which presents a lesser environmental impact compared to demolishing them and building from scratch. The added bonus to this strategy is that this will also preserve the unique historical character of many neighborhoods, besides the fact that older buildings are often more loveable, durable, adaptable, and frugal. Renovating these aged buildings can also result in improved interiors that are more updated for modern lifestyles. In the center of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, local architecture firm Bureau Fraai converted a cramped, old social housing unit into a much more spacious urban loft—first by eliminating all the partitions and doors, and then reworking the layout to incorporate some simple yet effective space-saving solutions. Located on the sunny top floor of a social housing block, the old apartment was a walled-off warren that divided up the entirety of the 602-square-foot space into tiny rooms, which were connected by a small, dark corridor. Bureau Fraai To resolve this less-than-ideal fragmentary situation, the architects decided upon a new design that condenses a number of functions into a wooden volume—which they have called a "box-bed"—off to one side of the apartment, where the old storage room used to be. The architects explain: "By incorporating program like bathroom, toilet, storage and a box-bed all inside the wooden volume, the space around the volume can be freely used for other program like living, dining, cooking and all the other pleasures of life." Condensing all these functions into one multifunctional area of living space is an idea that we've seen numerous times before, and it's one that works well. Here, the core wooden volume is clad with birch plywood from ceiling to floor and overlaps with more large storage cabinets that line the whole length of one side of the apartment. Wim Hanenberg But there are surprises and unexpected openings into this homogeneous layer of wood. Standing in the living room and looking back at the yellow entry door to the apartment, we first see the bedroom entrance, which is whimsically lit by an overhead light. Wim Hanenberg Carved out of the box-bed volume are spaces to store and display items on the shelves. Interestingly enough, when the door slides open to provide access to the bedroom, it closes off the window that illuminates the bathroom. Wim Hanenberg Past the sliding pocket door and taking a step up into the box-bed volume, we see the bed, which has built-in storage all around it. Wim Hanenberg Inside the bedroom, the decision was made to push the wall right up against the foot of the bed, which then frees up more space for the entry corridor on the other side of the box-bed. Wim Hanenberg It's a design compromise, but also creates a cozier space that truly feels like a minimalist box for sleeping in. To alleviate any sense of confinement, there is a mirror cleverly placed at the head of the bed, to give an illusion of extra space and light. Wim Hanenberg On the other side of the bedroom, we have the dining room, which is lit by large sliding doors leading out to the roof terrace. Wim Hanenberg Thanks to the seamless look of the birch panels, the box-bed and storage walls read as one whole strip of wood, in contrast to the rest of the apartment's white walls and blue-colored floor. Wim Hanenberg The door handles indicate the entrance to the bathroom, where the shower is located... Wim Hanenberg ...and the separate washroom with toilet. Wim Hanenberg Off to the side, we get a glimpse of the small but functional kitchen, tucked into one end of the open plan space shared with the dining area. We also see the bedroom window punctuating one side of the box-bed volume, which acts to bring in more natural light into what would have been a dark space. Wim Hanenberg Simply but cleverly done, the apartment's renovation has transformed it from a disconnected agglomeration of small rooms into a unified series of spaces that are linked together by materials, light, and views—making it feel much larger. To see more, visit Bureau Fraai and on Instagram.