As more and more people of the younger generations are giving up suburbia to move in droves into cities, renters and buyers often have to improvise with smaller, but more affordable, spaces in urban centres. It's the same trend in Taipei, Taiwan, where local studio A Little Design renovated this old and small 236-square-foot apartment to make it more spacious and livable for a young professional client who travels a lot for work. All the basics are here, but reconfigured and stacked up to make the space feel much bigger than it really is.
The designers state on ArchDaily that the young woman client wanted to have enough space to do exercise, so more space was created in the design by pushing all the furnishings toward and up the 10.8 feet high walls. Belongings are arranged according to the frequency of access. For example, tall, built-in cabinets used for storing clothes are located at the ground floor level, to allow for daily access, while books and other less urgent things are stored in shelving at mezzanine height, easily reached by ladder.
Besides being used as an exercise space, the client wanted the living room area to double as a dining room area. The designers say that this is "because many inhabitants of a small unit in Taipei can only have a meal on the sofa." To achieve this, they inserted a bar-height table that can act both as a desk when it's flat against the wall, or as a dining surface when rearranged in the middle of the space.
Pale colours were used throughout the design to create a sense of openness and lightness. The seating area is located within the alcove punctuated by the apartment's main window, and is actually a raised tatami area, topped with a natural, woven grass mat inspired by Japanese design. This is a lovely touch of functional minimalism, and of course, there is storage underneath. Extra floor space is freed up by attaching a long-necked lamp to the wall, which can swing in wide range of motion.
The client wanted a bathtub instead of a shower, so the washing machine was moved into the kitchen. The bathroom was redone to maximize space even further, even though a water heater had to be added in, say the designers:
Because in Taiwan the gas can not be piped into a house without a balcony and a small electric heater can not provide sufficient hot water for a bath, we adjusted the layout of the toilet to make room for a storage water heater, and a sliding door with a mirror which not only makes the maintenance easy but also amplifies the space visually.
Going up to the sleeping loft, we see a metal handrail being used to increase the view through and down to the space below. Upstairs, there is not enough headroom to stand up, so functions like sleeping and a sit-down office table have been relegated here.
With less space to work with, it's crucial to know what one's needs are right from the start, in order to design a space flexible enough to accommodate those unique needs. And if you really don't have space, then you can always build up. Minimal yet very functional, this design shows that even with a small space, a lot of living can be packed in, with space to spare. More over at ArchDaily and A Little Design.