Architect Brad Swartz discusses his winning tiny home formula

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The 27-square meter (290-sq ft) apartment was transformed into a multi-functional home that comfortably accommodates two(Credit: Katherine Lu)

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Earlier this month, Australian architect Brad Swartz won the 2015 Houses Awards for Best Apartment or Unit for his project in Darlinghurst, Sydney. The 27-square meter (290-sq ft) apartment was transformed into a multi-functional home that comfortably accommodates two at a cost of just AUD$54,000 (approx. US$39,130) to complete.

The tiny apartment designed by Swartz features a snug double bedroom, open living with European kitchen and laundry, bathroom, storage space, multi-purpose zones, clean lines, and lots of natural light.

"The material palette is purposely restrained and mirrors are sparsely but effectively used to exaggerate the feeling of spaciousness," commented the 2015 Houses Awards Jury. "This project is an excellent example of what a thoughtful designer can achieve within a very small space and with a very tight budget."

Swartz reconfigured what was originally just a single-room apartment to incorporate two distinct zones. The "private" zone was designed to accommodate the bathroom and bedroom areas, while and the "public" zone was created to include all aspects of everyday living, including kitchen, study, storage and enough room for entertaining or relaxing.

Adopting a minimalist approach, Swartz's design features pragmatic furnishings that fit together like Tetris pieces and seem to disappear into the surrounding white lines. The multi-purpose wall conceals the entrance to the bedroom, along with a flat screen TV, bookshelf, a vertical wine rack and a fold-down desk. These skillfully hidden everyday elements gives the home an illusion of having more interior space and is complimented with an abundance of natural light.

Gizmag got the chance to interview Swartz about this clever tiny home design and his love for working with tiny spaces. Here's what he had to say:

What inspired the original design for the apartment?

Swartz: I was inspired by contemporary Japanese architecture, in particular SANAA’s (an Architecture Firm) "Plum Grove" house, where lots of small rooms are interconnected.

What were your challenges in completing the apartment?

Swartz: The size was a constant challenge. We wanted the apartment to function like a one-bedroom apartment twice its size. This meant we tested many design options before settling on a final option.

Can you describe the home's space saving furnishings?

Swartz: Wherever possible we gave items multiple functions. For example, a step to the bedroom creates a threshold between private and public, becomes a seat when guests are over, and conceals a shoe drawer. Similarly, the cupboard over the sink hides a dish rack, which doubles as crockery storage.

What are the sustainable features of the home?

Swartz: Being small and close to the city, this apartment facilitates a sustainable lifestyle; proving luxuries don’t need to be sacrificed to prevent urban sprawl. Occupants can walk to work, shops, parks, pools, eliminating the need to own a car. Furthermore, the unit is easy to heat and relies on natural ventilation to cool.

What are your favorite design features of the home?

Swartz: The wine rack and the small internal window between the living and and bedroom.

What do you love about working with tiny spaces?

Swartz: It makes architecture and design accessible to everyone.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

Swartz: More architecture that facilitates and inspires a good life.

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