Former Offices Turned Into Studio Apartments

Repurposing and renovating old, disused buildings is still one of the most sustainable forms of architecture. So it is always nice to see such projects being successfully completed, as is the case with this old office building in Lisbon, Portugal, which has been turned into an apartment complex by the local firm Waataa. The offices were transformed into cozy and functional studio apartments, which feature clever multipurpose furniture in order to maximize the available space.

The original offices had high ceilings, which is a great advantage when working with small spaces and the architects used it to the fullest. The original spaces also had large windows, which let in plenty of natural daylight. The apartments were fitted with cabinets in the walls, and they feature modules painted in bright colors to add some vibrancy to the studio apartments. The colors are also used to designate the function of each module. Blue is for the sleeping area, which is where the Murphy bed is hidden. Yellow was used for the kitchen, above which is a mezzanine level intended as a lounge, a work area, and an entertainment area.

The mezzanine level is accessible via a set of alternating tread stairs, which were made out of particleboard. The bathroom is quite spacious and it is located below the mezzanine level. A skylight lets plenty of natural light into it.

The tables and beds all need to be folded down to be used, which can be a nuisance for some, but does save a lot of space. It also serves to bring the inhabitant closer to his or her living space, since there is constant interaction with it. These apartments are great for students or young professionals, and should offer an affordable living arrangement in a city where rents are quite high.

Village of Sustainable Homes in Norway is Well Underway

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Norway is getting the so-called Bygda 2.0, or Village 2.0, which is a new sustainable development in a rural, seaside area of Norway. The project will focus on developing modern Norwegian houses that will be sustainable, and will form a village of sorts, complete with spaces for doing businesses and research activities. As the people behind it say, “It will be a place to live, work and enjoy.”

They’ve already built two houses, with the second one having been complete only recently. It’s called Hadar’s house, named after the assistant manager of a nearby beach bar who lives in it. The house measures just 500 sq ft (46.5 sq m), yet it appears a lot more spacious than that. The firm Assante Architecture and Design of Stockholm designed it.

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The interior features a large open plan living area, which consists of a dining/work area, living room and kitchen. The bedroom is located in a loft, which is separated off from the rest of the home by a wooden wall to offer some privacy. The house features quite a large bathroom, which also contains a tub, and a large window next to it so you can enjoy the view while taking a bath.

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Perhaps the most interesting part about this house is the modern low-energy heating system. The whole house is heated by a wood stove called “kakelugnspannan”. It’s a modern version of a traditional Scandinavian wood stove and is comprised of a 600 liter tank in which water is heated by burning wood, or by the rooftop mounted solar panels. This water is then circulated to the radiators placed around the house, as well as used for washing. Apparently this system runs at 87% efficiency.

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Hadar’s house is located near the beach, and offers breathtaking views of the sea. It is made entirely of wood, as is the case with most traditional Scandinavian houses. The façade is build out of burned wood, so it is maintenance free.

Small Apartment Made Spacious by a Clever Transformer Unit

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In many large cities across the world, housing is hard to come by, so more and more people are finding ingenious solutions, which allows them to live big in small spaces. One such example is this Paris micro-apartment, which was made a lot more cozy and spacious by ingenious use of transformer furniture. The renovation was done by Batiik Studio.

The apartment in question measures only 161 square feet (15 sq m) and was very cramped before they redesigned it. To make the most of the available area, they first installed a platform under which the bed can be stored away when not in use. This freed up most of the apartment to be used as a living area. When the bed platform is pulled halfway out, it also acts as a sofa.

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The apartment also features a small, yet functional kitchen, which is located over the bed platform. The dining counter is big enough for two to eat comfortably, and it can even be extended to create a table for four. Storage is provided via a custom built, full-height closet, which is large enough to hide away all clutter.

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The bathroom is also quite spacious, and features a shower, toilet and sink. By moving the kitchen to the new location over the bed platform, they also gain a little nook by the window where the kitchen was originally located. This area can be used as a workspace, since it gets lots of natural light thanks to a window right next to it.

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Given the micro size of this apartment, I’m surprised they were able to do this much with it, since it truly appears very spacious and cozy. A lot of this is also due to the white painted walls, and large windows, which let in plenty of natural light.

Luxury Tiny Home

The recently completed Earth and Sky Palace tiny house, built by Dan Huling, may look like it has been around for awhile from the outside, but inside, it is fitted with a wide array of modern, high-end features. It is made partially out of reclaimed materials, and it is also towable and would not look out of place anywhere in the world. The designer drew inspiration from homes in old mining towns in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

The Earth and Sky Palace was built atop a 24 ft (7.3 m)-long trailer. It features a steel frame, and has 200 sq ft (18.5 sq m) of interior floorspace. The cladding is reclaimed heart pine and blue stained cedar, with steel trimming. They used Onduvilla tiles for the roof. They used spay foam for insulation.

The home features a large glass sliding door, which is the main entrance to the house. The kitchen is equipped with a high-end Verona propane-powered stove and oven, as well as a solar power-ready fridge, meaning it can be run off 12 V DC or 110 V AC. The counter is in the style of an old butcher’s block countertop, and the kitchen was also fitted with a porcelain sink, custom cabinetry, and a dinning nook.

The bedroom is on the ground floor of the home, so this tiny home has no actual living area. However, the bed can be turned into a sofa if needed. The single loft in the home is used for storage and is accessible by a ladder.

The bathroom is separated off from the rest of the house by a sliding door, and features a large shower, a brass sink, and a toilet. Elsewhere, the home features other expensive design elements, such as replica embossed alligator skin wallpaper, and a wall section that is covered in late 1800s antique pressed tin from a Nebraska prison.

The home also features a Friedrich air-conditioning unit, as well as a Thelin Hearth gnome potbelly direct vent gas heater. For electricity and water the home has a standard hookup, while there is also a septic tank for the toilet, since this tiny home was meant to be used as a guesthouse. It is, however, “solar ready” meaning that it has the necessary space for a complete solar power system.

The Earth and Sky Palace is on sale for $74,000.

Tiny Home That Can Withstand a Hurricane

Tiny homes aren’t exactly known for being weather-resilient but the so-called Amsterdam 24, made by Transcend Tiny Homes of Tennessee, is an exception. This home offers plenty of storage, is lightweight and towable, and can withstand high winds.

The Amsterdam 24 rests atop a 24 ft (7.3 m)-long double-axle trailer, which is where it gets its name from. The interior measures 292 sq ft (27 sq m), and since its walls are made of fiberglass composite it only weighs 8,340 lbs (3,782 kg), which is about one third the weight of a typical wood frame tiny home. The composite walls were made by a special technique, which involves laminating two high strength phenolic resin based fiberglass skins onto a foam core. This means that a standard 8 x 10 ft (2.4 x 3 m) wall section takes 115,000 lbs (52,163 kg) of pressure. They fuse the layers into the wall panel using a foaming gorilla type glue and in this way the fiberglass skin acts as a sort of exoskeleton of the shell.

Due to this method, the windows and door of the Amsterdam can withstand winds up to 156 mph (251 km/h), which means that it can withstand a Category 5 hurricane. However, to prevent it from being blown over, the house needs to be secured to the ground. The home is also very airtight and therefore energy efficient, and is equipped with an energy recovery ventilator.

The ground level of the home features a sitting area with a sofa bed that has integrated storage, as well as a kitchenette with a stove, fridge and sink, and also a washer and drier. The dining table is small, but functional. The bathroom is quite large for a tiny house, and has enough room for a sink, a good-sized shower, and toilet. The sleeping area is located in a loft, which is accessible via a movable ladder. The home also features lots of storage space.

The current model has a standard RV hookup for power and water needs, but the firm is working on an off-grid add on, which would include a solar power system and a composting toilet. The base model costs $69,700.