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How to functionally arrange small interiors? Conversion of two apartments in a Poznan tenement house

18 of November '20
Technical data
Name: Małeckiego 34
Investor: private
Location: Poland, Poznań, Małeckiego 34
Studio: Studio FIKUS, Michal Fikus
Author cooperation: Basia Miłowska, Magdalena Priefer, Dominika Roszyk

How to functionally arrange a small apartment?

Architects from Studio FIKUS were tasked with remodeling two large apartments located on two floors of one of Poznań's tenement houses, creating six smaller units - four functional studios and two slightly larger two-room apartments while maintaining the original division of rooms. The coherent design of the arrangement of the small interiors is based on a recurring element - colorful cubbies contrasting with the light color of the walls, wooden floors and decorative stuccowork, which not only functionally divide the space, creating a kitchen and bathroom, but also serve as storage space.

Ola Kloc: What was the priority for the Investor?

Michal Fikus: Ms. Investor bought two large apartments in a renovated tenement in the Lazarz district of Poznań with the intention of dividing them into six smaller ones: four studios and two two-room apartments. The premise was a long-term rental targeting young people, students and couples. All spaces had to be equipped with a kitchen with a dishwasher and oven and a bathroom with basic appliances, a shower and a washing machine, have utility storage, a shoe cupboard, a closet for clothes and corner sofas that fold out as comfortable beds.

rzuty mieszkań M1, M2
i M3

floor plans of first floor apartments: M1, M2 and M3

© Studio FIKUS

Ola: The studios were separated from the larger apartments, how do you functionally plan a small space to meet the expectations of its occupants?

Michal: In my opinion, there is no one right answer to this question, all the more so when, after all, we are designing for a certain potential audience and not a specific person. Each of us has our own habits, individual needs, daily rituals, and each of us also has things we like - some have more of them, others less. What kind of space we feel comfortable in and what we need in it is a product of our experiences, worldview, upbringing, our life so far. In our design practice, we meet different people, families with different needs, often extreme - some can't imagine a living room without a 50-inch TV, others forgo it and hang paintings; some like an open kitchen others a more closed one; some need a big refrigerator, others a small one will suffice; for some something will be a good, practical solution, and for others the opposite. Therefore, if we work with a particular person, we have a chance to produce an individual pattern of functionality for him, nevertheless, it is not and will never be a pattern for everyone.

rzuty mieszkań M4, M5
i M6

floor plans of apartments: M4, M5 and M6

© Studio FIKUS

For this assignment, we had to make some compromises due to the limited space and the need to use it sensibly. We tried to arrange the individual zones in such a way that their proportions were appropriate in relation to the entire volume, while at the same time maintaining basic functionality that will be appreciated by most future users. We wanted to make sure that in each space, in addition to the bathroom, kitchen and sofa, there was also a place to work - a desk. In the entrance area - a storage compartment for a vacuum cleaner, cleaning products, a shoe cabinet and a place for outerwear, The answer to some of these needs, but at the same time the main functional and aesthetic idea, became a cubby inserted in the corner of the apartment - it is at the same time a bathroom, an entrance closet, a storage room and goes into the kitchen development.

aksonometria mieszkań na parterze

axonometry of first floor apartments

© Studio FIKUS

Ola: What did you put the most emphasis on in the project?

Michal: Actually, the first site visit gave direction to subsequent decisions. We saw two beautiful spaces, each having a little more than 100 m² with large rooms lit up by tall windows, beautiful original stucco, tall double wooden doors, old floors - of course, all at first glance in very poor condition. We were captivated by these elements and decided to preserve them as much as possible - they became the starting point for further work.

: You put cubbies in strong colors in each apartment, where did this idea come from and how did the choice of expressive shades influence the design?

Michal: The idea of introducing cubbies into the interiors came from the assumption of preserving the original ceilings and stucco. We built the final space plan, which included using the existing division of the apartment - preserving the original rooms and "uncluttering" the space - separating the bathroom and kitchen in such a way that we did not put up walls high to the ceiling. The answer became a "furniture" inserted in the corner of the room, which received the form of a simple cubicle. It is at the same time a bathroom, a walk-in closet, a storage room and goes into the kitchen built-in. We wanted to keep this element as simple as possible, so that it complements the interior and what captivated us about it.

aksonometrie kubików M1, M2 i M3

axonometries of cubbies M1, M2 and M3

© Studio FIKUS

We wanted to give the cubicle a total treatment in terms of color, but also to make it stand out from the color scheme of the other walls, which were mostly painted white. Hence the idea for a vivid color, which would give the interior an individual character, but also emphasize that it is a new element inserted into an old interior. The choice of the final color scheme was supported by a number of on-site tests and was de facto determined during the course of implementation, especially in apartments M1 and M3.

mieszkanie M1 mieszkanie M4

left: apartment M1; right: apartment M4

Photo: Maja Musznicka | Shine Studio

In M1, the green color is complemented by a large-format, nameless painting, which we discovered after the contractor removed the old plasterwork - no one expected it, but we liked the effect very much and decided that it was worth leaving such a wall as a decorative, original structure that is not pretended. Its yellowish tones blend with the ceiling, which after cleaning received a warm color.

zielony kubik
w mieszkaniu M1 uzupełnia żółtawą, dekoracyjną ścianę

The green cubicle in the M1 apartment complements the yellowish decorative wall

Photo: Maja Musznicka | Shine Studio

In M2 the graphite color - as a contrast to the light planes of the walls and the original ceiling in warm colors and the yellow sofa.

kawalerka M2 żółta kanapa i szafa z grafitową zasłoną w kawalerce M2

Graphite cubic in M2 apartment and yellow sofa.

Photo: Maja Musznicka | Shine Studio

In M3, on the other hand, we matched the blue color with the colors of the restored wooden floor laid in a fine herringbone pattern.

mieszkanie M3
z niebieskim kubikiem

M3 apartment with blue cube

Photo: Maja Musznicka | Shine Studio

In M4 we opted for a raspberry color juxtaposed with very light planes of the floor, walls and decorative ceiling.

sztukaterie w mieszkaniu M4 łazienka w M4

Cubicle and sofa in raspberry color in M4 studio.

Photo: Maja Musznicka | Shine Studio

Ola: What was the most difficult part of the project, and what are you most satisfied with?

Michal: Satisfying and encouraging at the same time is the fact that we managed to convince the Investor of the idea and realize it. This idea was the preservation of the old, original elements and the layout of the space, going inside from the old staircase, we wanted to feel that we were still in the tenement. The multifunctional, simple cubicle with a strong color is a natural consequence of this idea, it is supposed to emphasize it by contrast, and this, in my opinion, was achieved. Invaluable in all this was the confidence of the Investor and the goodwill of the contractor.

Paradoxically, the choice of furniture - sofas, chairs, lighting - turned out to be quite difficult; how to choose budget furnishings to be a graceful complement to what constitutes the character of the interior: stucco, exposed ceilings, decorative walls or colorful cubbies. We spent a considerable amount of time on this phase of the project, ultimately choosing versatile pieces, known at least from the IKEA brand.

żółta kanapa
i biurko w kawalerce M2

A yellow sofa and desk in an M2 studio apartment

Photo: Maja Musznicka | Shine Studio

We designed several pieces of furniture individually, using simple solutions and economical materials - for example, the desks in apartments M2 and M3 are built from steel frames with a top made of HPL board. A considerable challenge was to organize a closet - a closet for clothes. Partially this function is performed by a cubicle, but its capacity is limited, so a solution had to be found to store more things. It could not be a traditional deep closet, because its large volume would clutter the space, so we proposed open shelving units hung on the walls and covered with a curtain, which in itself is soft and decorative - it creates a sculptural plane. To hang it without interfering heavily with the ceiling, we designed brackets made of steel pipe. We used such a solution in studios M2 and M4.

otwarte regały
zawieszane na ścianach i zasłaniane kotarą pełnią funkcję szafy

Open shelves hung on the walls and covered with a curtain act as a closet

Photo: Maja Musznicka | Shine Studio

Ola Kloc

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