When a structure loses its function, sometimes a new opportunity arises and a new function comes along to take its place. For example, there’s a region in Lisbon, Portugal where three volumes that used to be commercial spaces were transformed into apartments. The conversion was done by Waataa Architects in 2017 and, because of the nature of the spaces, the design strategy employed was a rather unusual one.
Each of the three spaces had high ceilings, large windows and their own bathrooms so, structurally, they were all set to become cozy homes. They were, however, quite small and the architects had to find a way to work around this issue and to turn the inconvenience into a feature. They used the high ceiling to their advantage and gave the apartments loft spaces which can be accessed via staircases, some of which are narrow and have alternating treads.
The limited floor space also encouraged the architects to find unconventional ways of offering storage. Their approach was a very inspiring one. They found a way to allow the inhabitants to physically interact with their homes by pushing and pulling the furniture, climbing on top of it and transforming it based on their needs.
Two large modules were built for each apartment. One is yellow and it contains everything a kitchen should have, including built-in appliances and generous storage. The other module is blue/ dark turquoise and inside it contains a Murphy bed, closet storage and a few other compartments. A set of stairs lets you go up where there’s a glass-enclosed space. On top of the kitchen module there’s a workspace with a long table. This is actually a multifunctional area which can adapt its function as needed.
The apartments also have additional storage inside a wall covered with full-height cabinetry. The unit is white so it goes unnoticed. It integrated a fold-down table which can be used as a kitchen island or dining surface but also as a desk. This large wall unit offers more than storage. It also offers a certain amount of acoustic and thermal insulation. It’s this type of intertwining functions that we find most intriguing and inspiring about these apartments.