Years ago, we showed a tiny apartment for a family of four in Paris and readers were appalled, suggesting that child welfare services should be called. But if you have an apartment in a nice part of Paris or Rome, you don’t give it up. ; kids come and go, but a good apartment in a beautiful location is something you keep forever. As an architectural firm Atelier Nomade Architecture Studio Remarks,
“With a real estate market still under pressure and the growing attractiveness of Paris both locally and globally, small housing is becoming an undeniable reality in the French capital. Small apartments and the associated challenges have become more relevant in the context of confinement when people need to study and work from home.
One of the studio’s projects is Michelet, a 50 square meter (540 square foot) apartment designed in the hope that the two older children (15 and 18) will leave as soon as possible, so it is designed to fit and currency. According to v2com,
“The two eldest would soon become independent, and the request was to design an apartment that could adapt and evolve so that there is only one room left after the children have left. That’s why the workshop staged the project in three different phases, and we included some easily movable partitions in the floor plan. To date, the apartment can accommodate five people, and this arrangement will remain as it is for the next three years. When the two oldest children leave, the parents’ bedroom wall will be removed to create a larger living room. Finally, in ten years or so, when the youngest boy [currently 7 years old] leaves, the remaining two bedrooms will connect to make a larger bedroom for the parents. ”
Architects are trained to deal in three dimensions, but often fail when considering the fourth dimension of time. It gets even more difficult during lockdown when everyone is working and staying at home. It’s actually quite complicated:
The boys share a bedroom in the upper left corner of the drawing, with a bed up the ladder to the 40 inch high loft above the bedroom (apartment ceilings are 10 feet high so there there is enough room) and another alcove under the girl’s bedroom which is accessed via what is described as a “Donald Juddesque” staircase from the dining room.
The apartment is in a very shallow building (23 feet deep) with windows to the front and back which is a big help in keeping it bright. The central load-bearing wall could not be removed, hence the separate kitchen / dining and living areas. To make the apartment more spacious, the architects used the same material throughout, a light Polish plywood with a light pine floor.
Everything is so minimal in this apartment, just a few books and objects; I wonder what it looks like now with everyone in lockdown.
I often complain about the kitchens in North American mini-homes, with their full-size 30-inch stoves and refrigerators; note how comfortable the family living in 540 square feet is with a 24 inch wide induction cooker.
It was actually surprising to see an appliance on the kitchen counter; I had to zoom in to figure out it was a Nespresso Pixie. Everything else they own is hidden behind plywood doors.
There are real lessons here on how to deal with small spaces. Many architects do their planning in two dimensions, but here the studio worked in the third, with their intricate weaving of alcoves, bedrooms and bathrooms, and even in four dimensions, with their planning of changes during over the next 10 years. It helps if people are going to be happy in 540 square feet, although if you live in a city like Paris and it isn’t locked, the streets and parks add to your living space.
It also helps to be an extreme minimalist with enough storage to hide everything. Five people living in 540 square feet might be a problem right now, but they’re certainly doing it in style.