In brief. This 345-square-foot (32-square-metre) Parisian studio is in a beautiful private mansion. The owner has lived there for one year — long enough to figure out the best plan for optimising space. He then hired architect Rebecca Benichou, of Batiik Studio, to carry it out. “He literally asked me for a cube-shaped structure,” she says. He wanted a box that would contain his room, a bathroom and a closet – that is, a complete suite – but over an area of about 80 square feet (7.5 square metres).
Why a box? “The client is interested in interior design and, by the time he came to see me, he had already identified a multifunctional cube as the best solution for his project,” Benichou says. “Collecting everything in a box is a good solution for … freeing up the space. This type of structure makes it possible to expand the main space, since it doesn’t require partitioning the room,” Benichou says.
The project involved three months of planning followed by three months of work, including building the kitchen. A general contractor built the “box” out of a wooden frame covered with Fenix, a scratch-resistant and easily repairable matte material.
Budget. Including the kitchen, ceiling painting and parquet varnishing, the project cost about US$ 33,000 (30,000 euros).
Project 2: A Small Room that Feels Big
In brief. This about 290-square-foot (27-square-metre) apartment in Paris belongs to a young couple. The property had just been renovated and the studio looked like an empty tray. The couple wanted to focus on the living room and avoid partitioning the space in order to keep the maximum amount of light coming in through the three windows.
Why a box? The multifunctional box presented itself as the right solution for making this mini-apartment perform like a normal-sized room,” says Benjamin Delais of BLDB, the architect in charge of the project.
The apartment is always tidy, thanks to five storage modules under the bed. Three of them are closets and pull out completely on telescoping rails (see the following photo). “We used rails that are intended for supporting computer servers, because they can hold a lot of weight,” Delais says. A door allows access under the stairs to a space behind the sliding cabinets, which the homeowners view as the “cellar” of the home: The owner even stores his bike here.
Budget. “It takes 10,000 euros [about US$ 10,900] to have a box tailor-made by a carpenter,” Delais says. Another point to be aware of is that in case of resale, such a structure is considered a piece of removable equipment and therefore does not affect the surface area of the apartment. Resale was not a problem in this case, however, as the apartment was sold within a week. “The buyers fell in love with the structure,” Delais says.
In brief. This small, 300-square-foot (28-square-metre) studio was designed by the architect Cyril Rheims for a young student. “She knew what she wanted: to sleep perched in a kind of nest, while remaining connected to the rest of the apartment.”
Why a box? As in example #1, Rheims wanted to avoid subdividing the space, and was concerned with the dynamic of the room outside the unit: “The open box made it possible to create a cocoon without interrupting the space that now flows freely from one end of the apartment to the other,” the architect says.
Making it happen. The 7½-foot-deep and 5-foot-high and wide (2.3-metres by 1.5-metre by 1.6-metre) box was built as a cantilever, so that it would resemble a perched nest. Its floor, secured to the back wall by a metal bar, was built with a supportive metal joist. Because it connects to the wall at multiple points, the joist is sufficient for providing additional support. The rest of the frame is made of wood. “At first we wanted to have a wood floor, but wood is a little soft, and in the long term, it would eventually have cracked where the floor and the walls of the box meet. It should be understood that a project like this is an experiment and that sometimes one has try a few things before the formula is found,” Rheims says.
Decor. The nest was painted in the same colours as the rest of the apartment, a combination of taupe and white. The slits that have been inserted on the sides tie in graphically with the lines of the shelves of the living room and the kitchen. “Maybe this is more aesthetic than practical, but it also gives the box an airy feeling,” the architect says.
Budget. The total renovation of the apartment amounted to about US$ 61,150 (56,000 euros).
In brief. This project took shape in an apartment in Puteaux, just outside of Paris, France, that was completely renovated. The family that lives there has five children: one teenager and four younger children, aged 4 to 10. The property was bought in phases over several years, starting with an initial, 430-square-foot (40-square-metre) apartment and adding several lots that together amount to 1,290 square feet (120 square metres). Even so, there is not enough space for a separate room for each child. Moreover, the parents wanted the four younger children to grow up sharing space and possessions. Architects from the Graal studio, who were in charge of the project, were able to meet the family’s needs with a smart and customised solution in the form of two boxes.
“These boxes were not so much a question of aesthetics as of ethics. We have reinterpreted the lifestyle in this apartment. The children can have privacy and focus on themselves while being in a common shared space, which is soothing to the little ones and, moreover, allows all of them to easily play together,” the architect says.
Budget. About $ 4,200 (4,000 euros) per box (carpentry only)