Finding creative ways to make the most of small spaces is a perpetual architectural puzzle, one that must adapt along with the times as our needs and expectations change. One clever contemporary solution is the room-within-a-room, in which a compact multipurpose volume is placed within a larger space. Not only does it eliminate the need to modify the existing space with interior walls, which can make it feel smaller and darker, it offers a variety of functions and more privacy than the average open-plan studio apartment.
Corine Keus Architect demonstrates how that can be done with a series of handcrafted studios designed for traveling directors, actors and artists-in-residence at the Netherlands National Theater. Made almost entirely of pine, the volumes have been inserted into six self-contained spaces within the historical building, which was built in 1916. Built in place and easy to deconstruct, these new studio volumes can be removed almost effortlessly when they’re no longer needed, barely leaving at trace in their wake.
The beautiful simplicity of the pine plywood, with its clean lines and unadorned planes, contrasts with the historic architecture and adds warmth, texture and pattern to each of the white rooms. The studio volumes contain all necessary amenities, including kitchenettes, a sleeping platform, closets and lots of additional storage. The only other furniture required is a table and chairs for dining and working, and clutter is easily contained within all those cabinets.
This project is packed with inspiration for small space design, and also shows how a material as humble and simple as plywood can make a big impact. It’s easy to see how cold and impersonal these rooms might have felt with just a bit of furniture and a built-in kitchenette. Instead, the result is cozy and one of a kind.