architecture & design
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Unusual Projects

By Mara Diaz

As design professionals design we are used to working on different types of projects, from a small house to a big commercial scheme, but sometimes a truly unusual challenge comes up that makes us rethink standard solutions and look at the project with different eyes.

Our team at KVIST have had the opportunity to work on a few of these usual projects over the years.


Bespoke furniture design is one of the solutions when you are working on a project with small dimensions. Furniture that can be folded, hidden, turned and used dually as a different piece of furniture is a great idea and a creative solution to approach spaces; making them more flexible and dynamic. Using easy to move furniture such as bean bags instead regular sofas, extendable tables that can be used for two or for 8 people if necessary without compromising the room, clever places to allocate shelves and storage space beyond the traditional under the bed or over the wardrobe are all great strategies. And there is no need to think of bespoke as a really expensive piece of furniture - it is just thinking about a different approach and finding a creative solution with the budget.

Images: Pinterest

In July of 2018 we were appointed by a client who had recently bought a second floor apartment in a traditional Victorian house in Bristol. Within their 35m2 apartment the client wanted to create a comfortable home for himself, and occasionally guests. His biggest concern was the storage space; he wanted a lot of storage and we needed to creative with a very tight budget so we had to think about clever solutions. His requirements were a double bed, a spare sofa bed, shower room (with steam room!), kitchen, dining table, work station and living room all in the comfort of 35m2. How is that possible? It works because everything has a dual function in this musician’s studio flat. 

Every cm counts in a project like this. We designed a sofa made from pallets on wheels that could be turned, moved, and hidden and be used as a couch or shelves depending of the side you were looking at.

The bed is rised over the access stairs and the steps to access the bed are also shelves. The idea was to find creative solutions so every little space in the apartment could be used most efficiently. Under the bed we designed a wardrobe using the full width of the platform. 

Images: Pinterest

In the kitchen we created extra space between the eaves of the roof to keep the crockery and glasses, this continues with the aesthetics of the main living space and we were able to utilise a space that was previously wasted. The kitchen is completed by a built-in bench for two people and a foldable table for 5 for a perfect friends night. 

The client also required a small bathroom with the modern essentials, using as little space possible. So, we designed a raised floor in the whole bathroom containing the shower drainage and a curved foldable screen for the shower so it could be folded away when not in use. 

Another smart idea was to create a set of shelves that fold down to form a spare bed. The shelves stay upright as it tilts and rest on the floor to provide additional support for the bed frame.

Image: KVIST Architecture & Design: 35m2 microflat sketches.


Another approach is working with different levels; using the vertical space to maximise the room and avoid having empty, unusable spaces. For example, there are a few designs where the only feature you can see is a wardrobe on one side of the room and as you open doors you’ll find the basic services: Kitchen, bathroom, storage...

In 2014 Christine worked on a project that was even a bigger challenge: a trendy and compact sleeping-kitchen-bathroom pod designed and built as part of the refurbishment of a 15m2 studio flat. 

The client wanted a cool ‘crash pad’ for entertaining and staying in when working from Bristol during the wee - on a tight £12k budget. The built project features hidden storage, a recessed double mattress and a translucent bathroom door within a white, oak and lime colour scheme. Framed openings in the pod line up at high level with the window into the communal hall to bring light into the space, whilst maximising the views from the sleeping platform.

A frosted glass door was installed in the bathroom to maintain privacy but at the same time bring natural light inside the compact room. 

Image: Microflat sketch.


Sometimes, if you are lucky as a designer, a really special and unusual project comes up. Something that is not entirely architecture but could be if you give it the right approach. A treehouse, a birdhouse, even illustrations for a children’s book.

These types of projects make think outside the box and will give you the opportunity to learn something that in other ways you wouldn’t. And later, you can apply this experience to more traditional projects to add genuine delight. 

Last august a client appointed us for the design of cosy retirement home in her amazing garden - and the brief included a new tree house for her grandchildren. The client wished to construct a tree house for the enjoyment of her family with slides, a rope ladder, platform and an enclosed room; every kid’s dream! The proposed tree house will sit to the west of the client’s home in the beautiful landscape of Leigh woods in Bristol, in a beautiful tree that bounds the terrace of the new annexe.

This is a really exciting project because we have not had the opportunity before to realise ideas for something as unusual as a tree house for kids. We would like to think of this project as a micro home in the trees with the backdrop of Leigh Woods. At the moment this project is at concept stage, but it opens a world of possibilities that we are exploring with great enthusiasm! 

A micro home in the trees with the backdrop of Leigh Woods:

Images: Pinterest. Treehouse