Although most of us can agree that a home is a static assortment of rooms with a semi-permanent arrangement of furniture and fixtures, there is no reason this definition has to be unflinchingly strict. What about those of us who live in impossibly tiny spaces? Shouldn’t we all be allowed to make our homes conform to our own needs and wants?

The Unfolding Apartment project from MKCA takes a tiny 450-square-foot apartment and turns it into a series of highly functional rooms. It accomplishes this seemingly impossible task with the use of a huge customized cabinet that can be folded, manipulated, changed and revised over and over to give the resident unprecedented living space freedom.

The apartment’s distinguishing feature, the huge folding/unfolding cabinet, takes on a different shape for every function the host wants the space to serve. It goes from a cozy sleeping area to a sophisticated party space to a dedicated office area. The unusual apartment even manages to squeeze a guest bedding area into the almost-impossibly tiny space.

Unfolding Apartment Project closed

This inspiring project deals not only with the intelligent utilization of a very small space; it explores the possibilities of maximization through minimization. By taking away all of the traditional rooms and clutter of a larger apartment, do the designers give the resident of this tiny abode the freedom to truly use his space in the most efficient way possible?

No matter how big or how small your own living space, it would be nearly impossible to examine this project without feeling inspired to explore more efficient uses of your own home. A dual-purpose piece of furniture here, a cleverly hidden functionality there…the hidden possibilities sitting right in our own homes are nearly infinite.

“The client is a young single man who entertains frequently, has house guests, and works occasionally from home. The challenge was to incorporate all of the aspects of a larger space for work and entertaining within a compact studio apartment. Rather than the typical Manhattan approach of dividing a small space into even smaller individual rooms and spaces, a strategy of extreme density and flexibility is employed. A single oversized custom cabinetry piece is inserted along one wall.”

The cabinet is packed with all of the functional components of a larger apartment including a bed, a night stand, a closet, a home office,a library, kitchen storage, and most of the lighting for the room. When these elements are packed away, the open space of the apartment is airy and loft-like. The domestic spaces of the apartment can be expanded progressively and adjusted via a reconfigurable series of doors and panels that can slide and pivot open and closed creating all of the individual spaces of the apartment and to transform it for various uses. Spaces can be calibrated to be private or more porous with via reflective secondary panels that open to reveal perforated lacquered metal screens. Lighting is consolidated within the top of the cabinet, providing an even illumination without any visible fixtures.”