Whoever said "size doesn't matter" clearly wasn't an architect, because trying to fit an apartment into a 21 sq m (226 sq ft) room is no mean feat. That's exactly what Berlin-based architecture and design studio Spamroom has done through clever use of available vertical space and a multi-purpose central unit.
Admittedly, the Micro-Apartment Moabit isn't as small as the transforming 8 sq m (86 sq ft) Paris Maid's Room, but it's still cosy. The early-1900s Altbau apartment located in the Berlin district of Moabit (hence the name) was originally composed of two very small rooms and shared an external toilet in an outbuilding. One of the rooms had been converted into a private bathroom by a previous owner, which, as the architect puts it, "had the added effect of unbalancing the overall proportions of living / sleeping / cooking / washing space in the flat."
To remedy this, the firm opted to open up the space as much as possible. It removed all interior walls and the surface layers added to the flat over the years. From this blank canvas, it was then able to begin tackling the brief, which sought a comfortable living / sleeping area, a small well-equipped kitchen, a compact bathroom and plenty of storage.
The main feature of the redefined space is a central unit that splits it lengthways. Along one side of the unit is a corridor kitchen with large windows providing plenty of light. Overhead cupboards ensure there is storage space, but that it does not impinge upon usable space elsewhere, and all appliances are designed to be compact.
Along the other side of the unit is the entrance corridor to the flat. Here it is possible to gain entry to the internal portion of the unit. Inside, there is a 2 sq m (22 sq ft) bathroom. Access is provided via a sliding door to conserve space and fixtures are arranged to be as compact as possible, with a skylight providing illumination.
The apartment also makes use of the generous room height afforded to such Altbau properties. By keeping the height of the central unit to a minimum, it was possible to build mezzanine floor above it using a partially cantilevered steel structure. The mezzanine acts a a sleeping space and has a raised lip that provides a shelf for books and laptop use.
The mezzanine is accessed by a steel staircase attached to the wall featuring a narrow, raised profile that means it remains unobtrusive. During the day it can be used as shelving, and it also provides access to more out-of-the-way storage in the form of a pull-down wardrobe.
The layout of the apartment ensures there is good amount of open space left on the lower level that can be used in a variety of ways. Furniture can be moved into and out as required, whilst a extended window sill provides a clever but discrete a working area.
The clients requested that some Jugendstil design touches referencing the original period of the apartment be included if possible. With this in mind, Spamroom has used replica blue Jugendstil tiles and locally sourced salvaged beige antique Craquelé tiles in the bathroom.
Elsewhere, previously covered floorboards have been restored and white-washed, with salvaged planks used to replace some where needed. A new insulated ceiling has also been installed.
The Micro-Apartment Moabit was completed in March this year.