Often no more than one room but cleverly designed to incorporate all mod cons, the microspace apartment is on the rise
Small space living is not new. Here in Malta, post war, it was not uncommon for people to live in very small spaces, or even in a room; often ‘kerreja’ were rented within a tenement, with a number of people living in what amounted to nothing more than 10 square metres.
Other cities boast similarly small spaces – Paris for instance has its ‘chambres de bonne’, small apartments generally found on the top floor which were used as bedrooms by the family’s domestic staff, but today, are usually the cheapest rung on the Parisian letting market.
However, the modern microspace is unique for being a highly designed space, one where room to move may be at a premium, but where the design spec is high. Rather than being the cheap option, it can be a considered choice for those looking for an upscale lifestyle that is low-maintenance, eco-friendly or both.
Behind an imposing double-height front door, a space with a modest footprint contains a sculpture for living. Through rigorous geometric arrangement, a kitchen, a living area and an elevated bedroom are created beneath an impressive vaulted ceiling. A fully equipped kitchen with extra deep Carrara marble countertops occupies one half of the steel structure. The cube frame offers storage nooks above the workspace, and behind this, a custom breakfast bar is situated below a window to enjoy the morning sunshine. On the other side, a sitting area demarcated by a splash of green upholstery provides a space for relaxation, and open shelving for decorative objects provides a link between the living and kitchen spaces.
‘There’s a general environmental awareness in reducing the carbon footprint – a responsibility to consume and own less,’ says Elisa Grech architect from MODEL who recently created the two apartments pictured here. ‘How much space do we need to store our personal items; most of which we might not necessarily need? Thus “less is more” is not only relevant to minimal design aesthetics, but is also a lifestyle concept which nowadays people are more conscious about.’
Adds Simon Grech, also from MODEL: ‘We overestimate the amount of space we require to be comfortable. When living in a small space one has to understand that the relationship between humans and objects becomes ever more relevant and intense, as there is an overlap in the space they both occupy when both in movement. There has to be an understanding and design of negotiation between the biological and non-biological. Living becomes proactive through action; there’s no space for procrastination and sedentary living. Living becomes a dance, although physically demanding, enjoyable, and mindful.’
To the rear left of the dwelling, a full-length mirror slides to reveal a toilet and washbasin, and to the rear right, a shower room in contemporary slate colours balances the floorplan. The staircase up to the sleeping quarters is located at the back of the dwelling. Fabricated in black bent steel sheeting to blend with the frame of the cube, its twists echo the turns of a traditional Maltese stone garigor. Sweeping upward to a king-size bed (image below), this sleeping platform on top of the living and kitchen areas allows an uninterrupted view of the stars at night through the fanlight window.
Continue reading: MICRO Management – Part 2