“The secret of happiness is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” Socrates
The brief was to build a harmonious, spacious (feeling) and bright home including plenty of storage in a very small 35m2 space. The client chose to move into a small flat for sustainability reasons, keeping his “footprint” small and limiting unnecessary stuff.
He wanted to make the most out of a small space, quality above quantity, and because of this approach we loved to work on this small project. Obviously another benefit is that he could spend more money on quality architecture and less on quantity rubbish space.
We wanted the space to feel as spacious as possible. Therefore we kept it simple and got rid of unnecessary elements to create one consistent open space by using little and light materials designed and made to measure. We believe this minimalistic approach emphasizes the space, a few well picked – neutral and natural – materials and some personal belongings.
In this day and age (in Amsterdam especially) it’s very common to skip the architect and go directly to the contractor often resulting in dull (bad quality) architecture and interiors ready for demolishment in 5 to 10 years. We wanted to do the opposite, skip the contractor and create an inspiring interior and architecture with a tight budget.
We designed everything made to measure 1:1 in 3D CAD and exported the design into an ordering list to directly order the materials from the supplier. This approach enabled us to order the materials from the supplier without engaging any middlemen and not needing a contractor (resulting in much less mistakes and less cost).
The next step was to make simple assembly drawings which could be understood by anyone who could hold a screwdriver. Considering our tight budget, we invited (i.a. architecture and carpentry) students in the assembly process which resulted in a constructive collaboration saving money on labor cost whilst students were able to learn by practice. More specific work, such as plumbing and electricity, was done by specialists whom were willing to cooperate with students and share their skills.
The space is conceived as one space. There is only one dividing (white solid timber) wall including concealed doors hiding the entrance, bathroom and laundry room. In between the bed and the living area is a space dividing cabinet with a slatted opening in the middle. This enables light and a sneak peek in the other space whilst still providing enough privacy. To maintain a consistent look we designed the kitchen in such a way that at first sight seems as a piece of furniture by concealing kitchen machines such as an oven, extractor and microwave. Since this was a refurbishment job we had to work around e.g. the raised bathroom floor and radiators. We transformed those problems into opportunities and build radiator covers which also function as seating and a raised floor which subtlety defines the space. The client previously had a folding bed which he would only close whenever there were guests and therefore didn’t function very well according to him. Therefore, we designed an extra large bed which could also be used as a cosy seating or reading space. This atmosphere was elaborated by elevating the bed one meter, also to create extra storage space below.
We were very lucky the client wanted and believed in this new way of building and was willing to spend his money and trust on this (risky) pilot project.
We made a video explaining the design and construction process and can be watched via the link below:
The flat was filmed by dutch Television and the video can be watched via the link below: