News Home & Design Cascading Multifunctional Sculpture Enlarges This Small Apartment A small studio apartment is redefined with this design intervention. 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 4, 2022 01:04PM 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 Studio Periphery News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive A lot of young professionals enjoy life in the big city, as there are always interesting things to do and interesting people to meet there, not to mention great food and the possibility of doing away with things like having to own a car. But an active lifestyle in urban centers can also have its flip side: finding an affordable place to live can be difficult and many have to make do with apartments that are well-located, but smaller in footprint. That said, having a tiny apartment doesn't mean having to live a cramped lifestyle—especially if there's some careful thought to how layouts can be altered to incorporate space-expanding elements. One great example of how it could be done comes from Singapore-based design firm Metre Architects, which recently overhauled this non-descript apartment measuring only 462 square feet (43 square meters) for a young client that works for the local government. Dubbed Gradient Space, the existing studio apartment was blessed with large windows and relatively tall ceilings but lacked walls or any other elements to help better define the interior spaces. There was a small kitchenette at the entry area, a tall wardrobe tucked into one corner, while the only enclosed room is the bathroom. Studio Periphery The creative brief included a request for a multi-functional space that would include a bed, living room, dining area, and plenty of storage for the client—a fashionable young woman who wanted space to store her clothes, accessories, and other equipment. The client also envisioned her home as a kind of bachelorette pad where she could comfortably entertain friends. As client Jocelyn says in this interview by CNA Lifestyle: "This is a very small unit, so the one thing I was looking out for was storage space." To tackle this project, the architects decided upon a rather intriguing approach. To start, they added a glass wall that now separates the main living and sleeping area from the kitchen to help filter out noise from the hallway or cooking smells coming in from the kitchen. Studio Periphery But the major design move here is to add a sculptural intervention of sorts, which now serves as a bed, seating, and storage. Designed to look like it is cascading down from the wall, the form of this multifunctional piece indeed provides various "gradients" where users can inhabit and utilize. Studio Periphery On the lowest level of this inhabitable sculpture is the upholstered seating area, which features an integrated side table, as well as an extra surface beside it for a guest to sit down. Studio Periphery The seating area is where the client can sit down to work from a laptop, or watch films on the television screen that is mounted on the opposite wall. Studio Periphery In addition, there is a large table right in front of the seating area that can be used as another spot for working, or for eating when the client pulls out a custom-made geometric bench from underneath. Studio Periphery The integrated lighting system here lends the small apartment a dreamy glow at night. Studio Periphery Besides the seating area, we also have a built-in miniature staircase with alternating steps, which allow the client to step up into bed. These steps can also function as extra seating for visiting friends to use. Studio Periphery As requested, there is now plenty of storage space—from the hidden cabinets in the stair treads to the larger drawers located under the bed, as well as the storage spaces built into the geometric furniture beside and under the television set. Even the bed itself can lift up to reveal a small "storeroom" underneath it, perfect for storing bulkier items. The path from the kitchen to the bathroom functions almost like a walk-in closet, thanks to the addition of a large, full-length mirror that also helps to reflect light into this dimmer area, giving it the illusion of a larger space. Studio Periphery In addition to the apartment's existing outdoor balcony, Jocelyn says the renovation has helped create a much more comfortable living space: "Sometimes at night, I will just sit here [on the balcony], enjoy a cup of tea, and play with my iPad. Even though it’s a very small apartment, it can be adapted to whatever the situation is." Small apartments don't have to feel small, and with some unexpected design interventions, they can indeed allow people like Jocelyn to live big in the city. To see more, visit Metre Architects and their Instagram.