Usually the sight of a micro-apartment sends us into a rhapsody over full-size range ovens and beds that never leave the floor. But upon exploring "29sqm" — a 312-square-foot abode in the arts district of Wroclaw, Poland — the prospect of organizing all of our possessions into those ubiquitous wall cubbies seems almost luxurious.
This innovative apartment's creator and resident, architect Ewa Czerny, had been squeezing her life into 215 square feet until she moved into this splendid micro-manse back in 2012. With Maciej Kowaluk and Lukasz Reszka, her colleagues at the Wroclaw-based practice 3XA, Czerny transformed an awkwardly shaped tenement into the most elegant tiny apartment we've seen yet.
But this is no dream unit full of model furniture that someone on a micro-budget would never buy. The architects used modest finishes — white paint for the exposed brick, raw wood floors, pieces of well-placed sheer fabric — and a rosy palette of neutrals to lighten and brighten the space. Seriously, we've never seen particleboard look so good.
The best part? This is a design fit for the lazy. The lofted sleeping area means there's no bed to hoist into the wall or clear from the dining table. Convertible furniture is for overachievers.
For Czerny and her colleagues, building a loft was the best way to make the narrow, tall apartment fully usable. "The single-room flat will always give you a problem of mixing the major space functions—living area and a bedroom space," Czerny told Nya RUM magazine. "We wanted to make the flat similar to the house in the meaning of creating the separated spaces for the day and night activities." 3xa effectively created the world's most diminutive ranch house.
Of course, it's easy to fall for micro-units when they're designed by pros. This apartment is still a tenement, albeit a really spiffy one. But Czerny must be given a macro-load of credit for living within the strictures of her own design.
There are quite a few architects, developers, and mayors out there who advocate micro-units as the next great urban idea for housing other people — people who, though they may be priced out of the standard square footages, might still want the option of, say, owning a dog, having a hobby that doesn't take place on a smartphone or conducting a private conversation outside the bathroom.
Given the momentum of micro-units in the states, from New York to LA, from Providence to San Francisco, Czerny's apartment — and the publicity it garners for the architects — might just improve the IQ of developments just getting under way.
Photos courtesy S. Zajączkowski