It is a common misconception that bunk beds - which are sleeping spaces elevated above floor-level - are used exclusively for the bedrooms of children and teens. While bunk beds are a great solution for younger kids and older kids alike, the practical aspect of bunk beds which gives ample sleeping space while saving on floor space, makes them great for a variety of purposes and applications. With a rise in density and the majority of people living in large urban centers making use of increasingly smaller living spaces, there has come a push towards modularity in interior architecture. For this reason, bunk beds and lofted sleeping areas have become a great solution to maximize square footage.
As well as making bedtime more fun, a bunk bed or loft bed allows for the use of the same floor space twice, which is a very important feature for smaller spaces. A lower bunk can also be used as a daybed, or perhaps the space underneath a loft bed could be used as a storage space, a desk, or as space for other furniture. Bunk and loft-style sleeping units can also be integrated into the architecture of a space in a variety of ways.
The following five examples show how integrated bunk beds and loft bed units can be elegant, well-designed, and practical.
Tungestølen Hiking Cabin / Snøhetta
Situated in Luster - in the Western part of Norway - on a small plateau overlooking the beautiful Jostedalen glacier, Tungestølen comprises a constellation of pentagonal tourist cabins designed by Snøhetta for Luster Turlag, a local branch of the Norwegian National Trekking Association.
The constellation of nine robust pentagonal and oblique cabins, made with wooden glue-lam frames, covered by sheets of CLT, and clad in ore pine, is able to withstand harsh weather conditions in both summer and winter climates.
At its highest, the ceiling measures 4.6 meters, creating ample space with panoramic views overlooking the surrounding landscape. The integration of bunk beds into the cabin dormitories creates enough sleeping space to accommodate up to 50 visitors throughout the 9 cabins. High ceiling height allows for two stories of sleeping space to be built comfortably into the outer wall as an extrusion made of the same ore pine that makes up the interior cladding of the cabin.
- While traditional bunk bed units typically have a guardrail, Snøhetta uses strategies such as netting and raised siding elements to keep the integrated bunks safe for sleeping.
- Using the same material for the bunks as the wall cladding ensures the solidity of the sleeping units while also creating visual unity throughout the space - so that the bunks appear to be an intentional part of the design.
Guadalupe River House / Low Design Office
One of the most popular destinations in Texas for rafting and tubing, the Guadalupe River—a serpentine waterscape that interweaves vacation properties with a floating park experience—forms the backdrop for this project by Low Design Office.
The intergenerational home is a compound dwelling consolidated into two rectangular forms—rotated in response to river views and old-growth trees. This rotation activates living spaces and niched porches via interplay between common areas and private suites.
Serving both older and younger generations, the house offers three bunks in the children's area that are built directly into the structural framework of the room. Accessible by a ladder constructed of adjoining metal pipes, the wood-framed bunks create a solid and well-appointed sleep and play space. While the area is shared, each bunk retains a sense of privacy.
- Using timeless materials that reflect the home is a good place to start when designing a child-friendly space that is both safe and entertaining without appearing juvenile.
- While the bunks at Guadalupe River House are mostly enclosed, the geometrically shaped apertures serve as a playful feature that also make the bunks less cavernous.
Villa Tonden / HofmanDujardin
This wood-clad home in the Dutch wilderness, designed by HofmanDujardin, is equipped with all amenities required for the residents to enjoy a laid-back time with family and friends. All rooms in the home offer a stunning view of the surrounding natural landscape.
Villa Tonden is composed of three archetypical house-shaped masses. While the individual volumes result in unique interior spaces with specific qualities, the use of sliding doors strengthens seamless internal connections between them.
The children’s bedroom features four built-in bunk bed nooks which provide a grounded place to feel safe in the natural surroundings. Located in front of a big window, they overlook the woods and allow the kids to look at the birds and deer from their beds.
- The bunks at villa Tonden appear as openings in the wall. A completely enclosed bunk unit can offer a sense of safety and stability, without the use of guards or railings.
- Placing integrated bunks strategically so that they are facing towards a view (rather than facing towards a wall) can be a great way to minimize claustrophobia in enclosed units and create a sleeping space that is enjoyable.
Yim Huai Khwang Hostel / Supermachine Studio
Yim Huai Khwang, named after the bustling district of Bangkok where the hostel is situated, was previously a condominium sales office. A young couple bought the building, in hopes of leaving their 9-5 jobs and starting their own business - a small chain of hostels for travelers of all ages.
Designed by Supermachine Studio, the hostel is an exciting combination of different colors and materials. While the hallways and reception areas are exploding with colours and textures, the 16 hostel rooms are kept simple using white and natural wood colors to make the compact rooms feel spacious.
In the shared sleeping area, 6 bunk beds are arranged in adjoining capsule-like units to add a little more privacy. Although completely enclosed, each spacious personal unit is equipped with a reading light and other personal amenities.
- Adding illumination to individual units is a practical consideration that makes the enclosed bunk feel more like an actual room than simply a bed.
- Placing an opening at the bottom of a fully enclosed bunk, rather than the side, is safer and eliminates concerns about falling off of higher levels.
La Cornette / YH2 Architecture
Built on the slope of a small hill in rural Quebec, La Cornette is open to the pastoral landscape that surrounds it. This house for celebrations and holidays, designed for two families, is set into the naturally uneven terrain in a way that brings each level into direct contact with the surrounding natural environment. It offers a resting place for all guests under its large gable in a series of bedrooms and unusual sleeping areas.
It is a playground for architects, children, and adults, a vacation colony lost in the countryside.
The sleeping spaces consist of wall-to-wall beds where residents must sleep foot-to-foot, and overhanging bunk beds floating in the landscape. Unlike typical bunk units that are divided and placed separately from traditional sleeping spaces in a home, the beds and bunks are placed in one unique formation.
- Although open-air formations such as this one offer less privacy, they also can provide the unbarred comfort of sleeping in a traditional bed.
- Playing with the geometry and arrangement of bunks can create a lot of visual excitement within a room.
Find more interesting examples in this folder.