When it came to renovating this apartment in the center of Madrid, nothing discouraged the owner, a creative advertising executive. Not its tiny size (226 square feet) nor its narrow width (less than 7 feet) nor its single natural light source (a skylight opening to an internal courtyard) got to him. He could clearly see the problems, but the advantages, such as its 15-foot height, prevailed.
With the help of MYCC Architecture Office, the owner created a surprisingly spacious home. Take a look at the incredible results.
Before its restoration, nobody could see in this narrow apartment anything but a hole extending several yards into the ground. “We couldn’t do anything else; the floor had almost disappeared in an attempt by the previous owner to find some extra space in the only possible direction — downward,” says architect Beatriz G. Casares.
The home is a true brainteaser, so a 3-D model is the most useful way to illustrate the layout.
The idea of “structures at different heights, which make it look as if you could almost jump from one to another, has always been present since the first sketches, and somehow evokes a feeling of the old platform computer games,” Casares says.
The entrance area, which now houses the kitchen, is one of the few areas of the apartment that stayed at its original level. This project made the most of each downward-gained foot through a clever distribution of the different living areas.
The study also remains at its original level. It’s located right under the apartment’s only natural light source: a skylight opening to the interior courtyard of the building. It’s accessed by a fixed wall ladder.
As with many other elements in this home, the study is multipurpose. Rolling out a futon can turn it into a chill-out space for (careful) lounging. (The lack of railings on a space like this may not be permitted in your area.)
“The height of the space has been used to create a great number of rooms,” Casares says. “Each room is well-demarcated while maintaining a visual connection with the rest of the home.”
There are gaps between each room, both vertically and horizontally, so the transition from one space to another is not only clear, but “can also be realized in a physical way,” according to the architect.
“Going up to the kitchen from the living room or down to the bedroom — both of which are located next to the living room, but on different levels —emphasizes the transition and provides a different perception of each single, independent area, along with the home as a whole.”
The living room is the core of the home, both vertically and horizontally. Steps at each end lead down to the lower levels (occupied by the bedroom on one side and the bathroom on the other).
The space under the living room deserves special mention. It is equipped to be a storage unit, which can even house the bed when extra space is needed in the bedroom.
The storage unit is accessed through a trap door in the living room floor. This area and two roomy cupboards, one at the entrance and one in the bedroom, provide plenty of space to stash everything from dishes to clothes to exercise equipment.
Steps also lead from the central living room up to the kitchen. Despite the obvious size restrictions of the property, the design allows for a lot of space and quite a few rooms.
The bathroom is cleverly arranged. The standout tub was made on-site. A half-height wall holds a sink and a toilet; behind it is a shower, with storage in the corner behind the tub.
“The construction and finishing were simple, as white dominates the whole space,” Casares says. The use of smooth, minimalist finishes is a constant throughout the project.