The real estate market in big cities like Paris is more and more tense. Rents shoot up whereas surface areas decrease. In this context, people are more and more obliged to live in small spaces. Especially for students or low incomes, studios from 10 to 15m² are becoming the norm. For architects, this new Type of living is challenging because it forces us to maximize the feeling of space and the quality of living.
Our young architectural atelier, miogui, had to refurbish a micro-studio, Gambetta, of 12.75m² in Paris, located in a former hotel. The existing situations are banal, a bathroom too big for the space, one window in the bathroom, one other in the main space, a little kitchen, a big wardrobe, a bed. The main question is: how can the space feel bigger than it is ?
- Feeling of a bigger space
Our first action was to destroy the bathroom’s wall to give back the second window for the living space. It was important for us to give the maximum space and light to the living room by compacting as much as we could the technical spaces.
To break the feeling of a small living room, we covered an entire wall of mirror. One big mirror without joints that give the impression of an extra room. Funny fact, during the visits, people hit it and wanted to go further. It is interesting how such a huge element, even difficult to bring in, can finally disappear to create more space.
It is important to note that in small spaces we have to keep a certain degree of abstraction that blurs the understanding of the space and dimensions, a notion that we learnt during our work in Japan a few years ago. The use of geometry: drawings are guided by strong geometrical shapes, looking for the beauty of plan. Details follow the same idea. The handles have to be geometrical, don’t look like handles, a simple sphere button for the bathroom door and closet.
The game with perception: doors that don't look like doors. The door of the bathroom is a simple pine wood plank in the middle of the mirror, like floating in space. The proportion of the door, 50cm wide, makes it higher. The use of raw materials: the wood of the furniture is a very basic one, pine wood, we assume its aesthetics that creates ornaments. The floor is just painted concrete. Pillars and beams in the facade are raw concrete.
- Reveal the structure
For every project, we try to reveal the truth about the structure.
We scrubbed the coating to reveal the concrete structure underneath. In contrast with the white and clean aspect of the apartment, this rough surface creates a good balance. It links the flat to the entire building. Working in such small spaces is really challenging. Even in those small spaces, possibilities are endless. The aim is to find the best balance between functionality and abstraction, with a real attention to details and proportions.
As the spaces are existent and old, we always have to deal with irregularity, unexpected discoveries. The construction site is like a second conception phase, where details have to be adapted, decisions made quickly. The understanding and dialogue with the craftsmen is essential for a good project.