Once a centrally located piano practice space, it's been converted into a comfortable little apartment with the help of some smart space-saving strategies.
Many cities all over the world are experiencing a shortage of housing affordability as more people are moving in to be closer proximity to work and other amenities. That partly explains the growing interest in more affordable housing alternatives like cohousing and coliving communities -- as well as projects that renovate disused urban spaces into new micro-apartments.
In the bustling capital of Taipei in Taiwan, A Little Design (previously) transformed a centrally located old piano studio into a 189-square-foot (17.6 square metres) flat for a client who travels often for work for extended periods of time, and who wanted to have a smaller second home base when visiting Taiwan in between these periods of being away, rather than purchasing a larger apartment and being saddled with a mortgage.
As lead architect Szumin Wang explains on Dezeen what the original apartment was like:
Although the owner does not need a big flat, before it was redesigned, the 17.6-square-metre unit was too small to fit both a queen-size bed, living space and sufficient storage. In addition, the bathroom was relatively big compared to the small square footage of the whole space, and the kitchen lacked practicability – it was even too small to fit a fridge.
The firm's goal was to maximize the available space by rearranging the layout, and incorporating space-saving ideas like built-in transformer furniture. Besides these constraints on room, there is an existing concrete beam running across the space that had to be integrated into the new scheme. The redesign has swapped the location of the kitchen and bathroom, so that kitchen is now spatially part of the entryway. The concrete beam now serves to delineate between the flat's living and utility spaces, and the space underneath has now been filled with storage cabinets, now adjacent to the minimalist staircase, which leads up to the sleeping loft.
The living room sofa sits on a platform that hides pipework. The sofa has been designed as part of a built-in shelving unit, and can be converted into a single guest bed. There is also some built-in cabinets right across from it, which include a flip-up table, perfect for working or eating on.
In the kitchen, appliances like the washing machine and refrigerator have been placed under the counter, to save space. The high ceilings here mean that there is space for cabinets higher up, for items that aren't needed so often.
The bathroom is now located where the kitchen used to be, where there is more light. A frosted sliding door lets more light in, while a sliding mirrored door inside the bathroom covers up built-in shelving along one wall.
As many have rightly pointed out, though micro-apartments and other small spaces are fascinating (and fun) to look at, they aren't necessarily the best solution to the housing affordability crisis and socioeconomic inequality we are now seeing in so many places. But as Wang notes, better policies and larger-scale solutions may be slow in coming, and smaller, better-designed living spaces can be a temporary way to cope with these forces:
The prevalence of micro-flats is not our answer for the high-housing-price issue in Taipei City, but is the result of living issue's long-term evolution and the task the clients bring to us. We hope the attempt of design could provide some schemes and possibility for this living type.
To see more, visit A Little Design.