It's not uncommon to see housing complexes integrate commercial spaces at the ground level, but the challenge of mediating between the private and public realm on a smaller scale, especially with the rise of the home office, has forced architects to explore all aspects of the structure, from the topography it sits on, to the direction of light and wind, to the design and organization the domestic space. This interior focus explores different design solutions that show how architects and interior designers transformed their projects from a living space into a mixed-use typology, taking into account privacy, flexibility, functionality, and predefined spatial requirements.
Towards the end of 2021, the global workforce experienced what is now known as the Great Resignation, which saw millions of employees aged between 30-45 dropping out of their jobs, a 20% increase compared to last year. The rate comes as no surprise though, since evident changes in traditional work environments have been observed all throughout the past decade, and were greatly accelerated following two years of confinement and remote work. The pandemic highly influenced the way employees value their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing, and inspired them to look into environments that promote “open communication and free-flowing creativity”.
With that, the world saw the emergence of the “startup culture”. Regardless of their age group or experience, people no longer relied exclusively on their 9-to-5 jobs to be secured financially, especially if medical, academic, and time-off benefits were limited. Instead, they monetized their hobbies and passions, and transformed parts of their houses into private workspaces. In other cases, business owners found it more adequate to "move into" their workplace, dedicating a specific area in their office/shop for housing. Depending on the type of work and its spatial requirements, architects and interior designers introduced different configurations, separating the workspace from the rest of the house, yet providing facilitated circulation for its residents and visitors.
Read on to explore 15 projects that show how architects reimagined their residential quarters as coffee shops, libraries, ateliers, and design studios, to name a few.
The client of this 1850's 45 sqm apartment wanted to generate a new space that contains at least one bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen, storage space, and a workspace, without subdivisions and walls to make the most of the south orientation of the balcony. Seeking to multiply the possibilities in a reduced spatial area, the architects used "adaptability and flexibility" to define the different functions of the space through the installation of mobile partitions. The partitions reconfigure the original spatial division, leaving only the structural envelope as a base, and allowing the bedroom to be transformed into a work area whenever needed.
The project was designed for a designer couple who wanted their workplace to be an integral part of their daily routine. Catering to the two functions, a home office is located on the ground and semi‐basement floor, whereas the residential area is placed on the level above it. In the residential part of the volume, the building is further divided into 2 large areas: a semi‐private area which includes a living room and dining room placed at the front side of the house, and more private area which includes the bedrooms placed at the back side of the building. These two building masses are separated by a dry garden that offers ventilation, natural lighting, and tranquility to all interior spaces.
Hae-mut-je, which translates to a small house on a seaside land in Korean, began with the purpose of building a guesthouse for the architect's interns who visit from overseas, as well as a base for cultural activists that can revive the neighboring village. To be able to accommodate both, the volume is divided into two parts: the residential part and the office for cultural activists, divided by a small open courtyard and rainwater pool. The office is placed facing the corner of the road to create a dynamic atmosphere with the narrow alley, and ensure that the residential area is protected from the noise and passersby.
The house is conceptualized as a "closed wooden box" in a landscape of large trees. Structurally, the building was designed to serve double functions: living and working, which forced the architects to define the spaces through two staircases. This duality offered the residents the benefit of being able to circulate easily within the house in a loop-like circulation, as well as reconfigure the office space into a "kangaroo house", a debated typology in Belgium and the Netherlands.
The studio was designed for an artist who wanted a living and working space with no visual or physical interruptions to ensure total concentration. Since the height of the ceiling was at 5 meters, the architects added a second level for the bedroom, dedicating the first level for the main working space, as well as a mini-kitchen, a bathroom, and storage. Following the client's request of no visual interruptions, the entire space was painted white with minimal black interventions, and housed minimum amount of furniture to allow the owner to have maximum free space to carry out his creative work.
For the Sonastério music studio, Joao Diniz Arquitetura combined geography, sound, architecture, and creative conviviality in one geometric structure. The architects wanted to ensure a dialogue between the spatial requirements of an acoustic studio and Morro do Chapéu's unique architectural context, so they created a floating concrete structure with interlocking volumes and floor-to-ceiling glass facades that integrate with the surrounding landscape and offer a private performing and recording studio. The sound insulation qualities of concrete and scenic views allow for a secluded and calm residential environment.
Atelier / Workshop
The project merges two typologies: the modern house and the industrial shed through a program of 4 autonomous but interrelated units - house, guest apartment, atelier, and garage. In this particular project, landscape integration was heavily influential on how the space was designed. The architects took the slope from the surrounding terrain to define where they wanted to integrate both types into a single volume: the house mimics the topography and changes functions as the plan progresses. The volume emerges from the land in one of the extremes, aligns the structure with the garden in the central area, and then detaches itself in the western side. An open hallway is placed in the central area where the house and the atelier merge, then becomes a roofed exterior transitional space that serves as a focal point and climatic regulator. The merging of both functions gives every space a double orientation and sufficient lighting and ventilation.
10M4D combines a house and two workshops for an embroider mother and her ceramist daughter. The architects represented the "multiplicity of life" by merging three different spaces: a spacious ‘Madang’ (an outdoor space that has specific programmatic and climatic functions), a naturally-ventilated workspace, and a comfortable residential space. The programs were organized around an elevated Madang, which is enclosed by a long portico that functions as the front façade of the building. This portico serves as a buffer zone between the studios and the streets, ensuring the privacy of the clients while they're working. The embroidery studio sits in a timber structure with plywood walls that set a warm atmosphere, and the ceramic studio is housed in a concrete structure that sets a quiet and cool atmosphere. The residential quarters were placed on the upper floor for optimum privacy, but with direct access to the Madang as well, creating a fluid circulation across different programs.
Originally a monumental industrial site, the space has been transformed into a home, studio, and art gallery of an artist couple. The volume is divided into two levels: an office and a workshop on the ground floor, and a gallery space and home on the first floor, connected by two sculptural staircases. The ground floor is carefully designed to include all required functions without relying on the upper floor. Access to the residential area upstairs takes place through the kitchen, which is used as a common serving area whenever an exhibition is taking place at the gallery. Going through the hallway, sliding doors to the guest room, walk-in closet, bathroom and toilets are camouflaged with the white walls and drop beams to avoid public access.
With a gross built area of only 35 sqm, the 18-year old building was functioning as a living space for a three-generation family of seven members. Having so many family members of different age groups in such a small space, the architects focused on privacy and flexibility in their design. The first floor is dedicated to the café, while the rest for living. Vertical louvers and glass walls were implemented as partitions between public and private zones, creating a continuous visual and physical access, but still being able to give every member their private spaces when necessary. The building's old and ineffective spiral staircase was replaced by a new straight one that goes all across the building, helping to optimize space and provide better circulation.
Home-made Alimentary Store
Baan Priggang, which translates to Curry Paste Home in Thai, was originally a two and a half storey wooden house with a building on the side. The owner wanted to renovate the space into a curry paste factory, but the deteriorating structural conditions did not allow for the space to be used as both residential and commercial. Upon evaluating the details of the site, the old building, light, ventilation, and the spatial requirements of a curry paste factory, the architects broke the familiarity of home design by placing the factory in front of the house as a welcome zone (and in proximity to the road which offers the best airflow), followed by the dining area, and the Thai kitchen at the back as the backbone of the structure that connects the house to the factory.
In addition to a residence, the clients wanted to add a hair salon and a storage space for their several motorcycles. Since the project required 3 well defined functional spaces, the architects designed each with unique characteristics on a deformed L-shaped plan. The ground floor, which houses the two commercial functions, is differentiated by floor leveling and material selection. Going upwards, the residential unit is placed with bedrooms at the back so that the privacy gradually increases from the entrance towards the bedroom, responding to the circulation of visitors and residents.
The small house was created for a client that had a vast library and wanted an easily accessible space to store her collection of books. The architects saw potential in her collection, and transformed her house into a private library that could be opened to the city whenever the owner wanted. Six glass doors were placed at the entrance along with circular benches, allowing the ground floor to be used as a public open space. Since the client preferred a more quiet and private life, the single room upstairs was transformed into her private residential space.
With the intention of having a residential and retail space, the 3-storey building is divided into 2 sub-buildings: the street-facing part as a pharmacy and the back part as a residential area. Due to the site limitations and building type, the layout is trapped between adjacent buildings, so the architects integrated a courtyard with skylight in between both volumes to provide daylight access and completely separate the commercial area. However, the clients felt that the commercial scale is too large and that both functions are not homogenous. With that, the architects created a small house in the back of the site that serves as a family living area and a common space that connects all spaces together. The final design is a 2-storey detached house, a courtyard balcony, which disguises the fact that the third floor is the pharmacy warehouse, and a double space in common area which is rarely seen in this type of building in the neighborhood.
The clients of this project were adamant on one feature, "the garage terrace should bean extension of the living room, and the house should have a personality”. Here, the clients' passion of cars was the driving force behind the spatial organization of the architecture. The house sits in a newly developed residential site facing the main road, which has a wide visual access to passing cars and pedestrians. Since the couple intend to set up carports in the future, the architects took advantage of the 5 meter area in front of the house and implemented a built-in parking lot that serves as an active semi-outdoor terrace connected to the living room.
Find more mixed-use residential projects in this My ArchDaily folder created by the author.
This article is part of an ArchDaily series that explores features of interior architecture, from our own database of projects. Every month, we will highlight how architects and designers are utilizing new elements, new characteristics and new signatures in interior spaces around the world. As always, at ArchDaily, we highly appreciate the input of our readers. If you think we should mention specific ideas, please submit your suggestions.