News Home & Design Corner Micro-Apartment Expanded With Clever Screened-In Living Space A cramped corner apartment is enlarged with the addition of a protected balcony and some transformer furniture. 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 March 5, 2021 02:07PM EST 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 Fernando Schapochnik News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive In architectural and urban planning, there's often a lot of talk about how to make the best use of "residual" urban spaces, such as those found in rear laneways, the alleys in between buildings, or any bits of neglected urban fabric that could be fertile ground for some kind of architectural intervention or urban infill. Every city has these residual spaces that could very well be transformed into something useful, like micro-housing or a garden, with a bit of creativity. In Buenos Aires, Argentina, local firm IR Arquitectura has enlarged a tiny corner apartment, a "residual product," with the conversion of a 75-square-foot (7-square-meter) balcony into a screened extension of the interior space, in addition to augmenting the micro-apartment with built-in transformer furniture. Called El Camarín, the small 193-square-foot (18-square-meter) apartment is located in Charcarita, a neighborhood in the north-central part of the city. Fernando Schapochnik The architects describe their scheme to redesign the space: "This small apartment, residual product of the fragmentation of a property built in the 1950s in the neighborhood of Chacarita, forms an 'ochava' [chamfered corner] on the first floor with visuals as open to the outside as exposed to the curious look from the street. These three factors, added to the will of the client to inhabit a luminous and flexible space, determine the project strategy." Fernando Schapochnik The new design remakes the under-utilized balcony space, which was previously on full view to the outside street, into a partially protected area that can be enjoyed during the good weather of the summer months. Since the fragmentation of the original building resulted in this awkward space, this less-than-ideal existing condition was made into an advantage with the demolition of original layout and the insertion of a curved balcony slab, plus the addition of an architectural "diaphragm" of sorts. The architects explain: "The incorporation of spaced enclosures offers a new device, a diaphragm able to expand the use of the apartment in summer and to contract it in winter. A thermal mattress that, due to its geometry and texture, will assume the responsibility of ensure the privacy of El Camarín." Fernando Schapochnik This mesh screen offers a greater measure of privacy to the apartment's occupants, yet allows for fresh air and light to still pass through. With the addition of plants and furniture, it feels like a sunroom to relax in. During the night, or during the winter months, the interior space can be completely closed off with the help of accordion-like glass doors. Fernando Schapochnik The awkward floor space inside the apartment has been transformed as well: rather than clutter the main living room with pieces of furniture, the firm has redesigned it so that there are now two walls with built-in furniture that can fold or slide out when in use, and which can be hidden away when it's not needed, thus saving precious space. Fernando Schapochnik On one side of the apartment, we have the kitchen "wall," which has a hidden, fold-down dining table integrated within, as well the usual suspects: a stovetop, oven, pantry, and counter space for preparing food. The refrigerator and washing machine are hidden within this kitchen 'wall', behind some doors. Fernando Schapochnik Behind yet another door in this wall, one can walk into a small corridor that has the bathroom sink, and further beyond, the bathroom proper, with a toilet and shower. Besides that, there is a ladder that provides access to the roof. Fernando Schapochnik To reach the cabinets at the top, one can use a ladder that hooks onto a rail. Fernando Schapochnik On the other side of the micro-apartment, there is an elevated platform that holds the bed, a desk area that also has some extra space to lean back and sit against the wall. Fernando Schapochnik There's plenty of built-in storage here, and to visually separate this space from the rest of the apartment, there is some open shelving here as well to place books and plants – part of which extends over the entrance door. Fernando Schapochnik Overall, it's an excellent overhaul: though the original layout was problematic and constrained, the new scheme has managed to squeeze more functionality with integrated furniture and shelving. Things are opened up even more considerably with the expansion of the balcony into an extra living space -- one that feels much more connected with the rest of the apartment. To see more, visit IR Arquitectura, Instagram, and Twitter.