For this episode of Tiny Living, we interviewed the architects at bruce carscadden ARCHITECT inc. They provided lots of insight on why their microlofts at 18 West Hastings Street make living in 290 square feet very cool and entirely doable.
What kind of design style did you have in mind when designing the microlofts?
In the early stages of the design, we looked to small Japanese spaces for their focus on effective use of space without having to sacrifice beauty and aesthetic. The basic elements of design were centred around the basic qualities of livability, including access to natural light and ventilation, access to storage, customizability of the space and providing the basic requirements for living inside each suite – a self contained washroom, kitchen and bed area. The style itself was focused on contemporary, bright materials to maximize the illusion of space including frosted glass walls, doors, and cabinets where possible to add both actual and perceived area to the suites.
Who’s the client you had in mind?
I do not think that we had a predisposed notion of the Client. We tried to create suites that, albeit small, could be used in a variety of ways depending on the resident. In fact, as the project took about four years to realize, the neighbourhood itself changed in a way that resulted in a mix of residents that would likely have not been predicted at the beginning.
How do people keep organized?! Does a space this small allow you to have any stuff?
These suites are targeted to people who do not already own a lot of stuff as they come fully furnished – including flat screen TVs! There is as much built in storage as feasible and the residents have added storage. In general, you could accommodate clothes, dishes, food, some books and other modest personal effects. There is also bike storage in the basement level.
What were the criteria used to create an efficient space?
In addition to the answer in 1, there was significant design energy expended to create spaces that overlaid over one another. The bed lifts up to create a living space, and a dining table flips down from the underside of the bed to create a dining room. In the washroom, the entry door doubles as the shower door to save space. We looked for multipurpose, multifunctional options that maximized use in minimal space.
What’s the best thing about the microlofts according to the architects?
The best part of the Microlofts, in our opinion, is the commitment to quality of experience exhibited by the Owner, the Architect and the City. The building had previously been one of the worst Single Occupancy Residences in Vancouver and was renovated from a maligned state in a gritty neighbourhood. It now stands as an example of high quality of design in a beautifully refurbished building that is providing a wider range of housing options in Downtown Vancouver.
Photos courtesy of bruce carscadden ARCHITECT inc
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