Located in a 1970s apartment in Melbourne, Australia, ‘Type Street Apartment’ is a small, 35 square metre, one bedroom flat that has been renovated by Jack Chen, the architect behind Tsai Design, for his own use. The small size of the project thinks big at every point: the apartment was designed as a blueprint for small footprint life in support of the ‘tiny house movement’ which questions the modern-day lifestyle of living in excess.
The central question that Chen attempts to answer is “How might we fit a big house into a small unit?” The trick to answering such a dilemma the architect explains is knowing where it pays to be generous. The result is a compact apartment that elegantly combines space for entertaining, a home office and a place of rest in a setting of subtle sophistication.
In its original condition, the apartment had no working kitchen, an awkward layout, and no outdoor space. Chen’s solution in tackling these problems is based in layering and overlapping: the key to planning for small spaces is to allow for two different functions to co- exist in the same space at different times.
Visually, the apartment is divided into two zones, the service areas which are dominated by timber finishes, and the living areas rendered in white. Equipped with three metres of bench space and ample concealed storage, the four-metre long kitchen is wholly encased in timber, from the veneer joinery and wall panels, to the floor and ceiling surfaces, which allow the kitchen area to be perceived as a separate space from the all-white living room despite comprising a single volume.
This type of functionality not only demands clever and elegant design solutions but also depends on exquisite craftsmanship which is delivered within every detail.
Photo © Tess Kelly.