Living in a small urban apartment is not easy, especially if one is about to start raising a family. But it can be done: Australian architect Clare Cousins makes some intelligent compromises of space and materials for a young couple expecting their first child in this lovely, budget-conscious conversion of an 807-square-foot, one-bedroom flat, located in a heritage building in downtown Melbourne.
Seen over at Dezeen, and taking cues from the clients' preference for the efficient layout of Japanese micro-apartments, Cousin's design erects a full-height wooden box to one side of the apartment, which is further divided into the parents' bedroom, and a smaller bedroom to the rear for the baby. Each room is about the length of the bed, meaning that extra space is freed up for the open-concept living room, kitchen and dining areas, while a bit of surplus headroom is converted to a sleeping loft for guests and hidden storage near the entrance.
There is plenty of built-in storage cabinets and shelving, allowing the family to hide their possessions to give the small space an uncluttered feel.
Cousins primarily uses pale-coloured Australian hoop-pine plywood, an inexpensive material, to accentuate the natural light that filters into the high-ceilinged space. Cousins explains that "much of the joinery was designed to be constructed by a carpenter, further minimising construction costs."
With more and more 30-somethings choosing to live, work and raise families in the cities rather than the suburbs, smart conversions like this may be the way to go. As Cousins puts it:
The sensitive adaptation of existing heritage spaces to suit the requirements of their users is fundamental to the sustainable development of our inner city. This project demonstrates that high-density inner-city living and modern, functional family homes need not be mutually exclusive.