Moving Walls & Secret Furniture: The Delightfully Flexible Architecture Of A Didomestic Apartment

That’s right. You read that right. Moving walls and secret furniture. It sounds like something out of an old sci-fi movie, doesn’t it? But the truth is, this compact apartment in Madrid is both ultra-modern and ensconced in reality.

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The apartment, created within the loft of an old building, was designed by Spanish studio Elii Architects to maximize the limited square footage by creating flexible rooms and furniture. Each space can be rearranged or adapted for different purposes – a one-person tea time or a many-people party.

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The glass partitioned walls can move, of course. But the apartment’s architectural flexibility doesn’t stop there. Wardrobes are built into the walls (with doors that are impressively camouflaged as part of the wall), a dining table, complete with benches, can be lowered from the ceiling then “put away” again, and toiletries are stowed in a secret floor compartment. As if that’s not enough, even a swing, disco ball, and hammock can come out of the ceiling for an extra dose of fun and relaxation.

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Materials used for the apartment are an efficient blend of bright and modern (glass, teal, pink, and lots and lots of white) and rougher woods (beams and exposed plywood). Keeping the design materials consistent throughout the entire space helps maintain its flexibility – whether the apartment is opened all the way up or partitioned off, the design is fluid and true.

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We had the opportunity to interview the architects of this creatively functional space. Here’s what they said:

Homedit: Describe your design process in this structure – where did it all start?

Elii: Everything was thought of at the same time. Anyhow, there were some elements that conditioned the proposal. For example, the flat is very small.

Homedit: Did you start with the shell of the structure, then filled in the blanks? Or was the catalyst the enclosed central staircase?

Elii: The staircase is set in the center for two reasons: It is the only point where there is enough height to access, through the mansard, the upper part. And the central position of the staircase allowed very different configurations for the panels.

Homedit: An indoor hammock, swing, and disco ball are fun details. Were those added in the later parts of the design, or did they help to dictate the design somewhat?

Elii: No, they were part of the concept of the house. We liked the idea of including some “non-domestic” elements in the interior of the house. Things that many times you do not have at home but that you would have always desired and that may turn a moment of everyday life into a special moment. It is part of the main idea of the house: “a domestic theater.” The more different functions, the more variety of possibilities you can display at home. That way, your living room may be transformed into a discotheque, or into a picnic space.

Homedit: How did you choose the materials you used – from the bright turquoise metal stairs to the raw plywood ceiling and shelves?

Elii: All the materials were chosen with the client. She described herself as a heavy metal that is very fond of Hello Kitty. We tried to respect her taste and translate it into the aesthetic of the place.

Homedit: The slope of the ceiling on the second floor is fairly steep and, in parts, quite low, but the space still seems usable. What was the key in your design to accomplish this seeming contradiction?

Elii: Actually, it is super steep. The strategy was to stop the floor of the top part in about 3/5 of the size. That way, we achieved a double height.

Homedit: One gets the feeling that every square inch of wall or ceiling is magically more than it seems. Are there even more storage options hidden away unseen, or is this home designed for the inherent minimalist?

Elii: On the one hand, we made the most of the use of space, which is very important in such a small flat. On the other hand, you make the house become a kind of toy. There are many secret compartments. We cannot reveal all the secrets of the house.

Homedit: Do you think the built-in-yet-flexible components of this home design will seem confining or liberating to the resident over time?

Elii: She is in love with the space.

Homedit: We can certainly see why. It’s unique, it’s inspiring, it’s beautiful.