A Small Space for Living In

Tact Studio, London, 2020



Photography by Will Howard & Sogand Babol     Download Original

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Our first home together; the comprehensive renovation of this 40m2 subdivided one-bed Victorian apartment was close to our hearts

We designed and self-built everything with the help of friends and family. The architectural intent centres on the creation of hard-working furniture and compact rooms supporting two generous living and sleeping spaces that celebrate our mixed cultural heritage. The key spaces are punctured by a dark hall centrally, to emphasise transition and provide visual depth, allowing the whole apartment to feel more generous.

The main space is at once an active place to cook, entertain and work, as well as relax, retreat and read. We were eager to design something that invites functional objects and the tactile qualities of daily life, but which can be folded away to allow a calming setting when desired. The tap, sink and oven are concealed with sliding and hinged mechanisms which allow the kitchen to be folded away into a discreet piece of joinery.

The design utilises natural, sustainably sourced and inexpensive materials. Using simple techniques such as edging sheet materials with solid complementary timbers, we were able to elevate affordable materials to a high specification. Recycled burgundy Klinker brick samples were salvaged from our workplace to become the fireplace hearth, while the shower room ceiling uses off-the-shelf softwood timber with a small section to form a new ceiling that conceals mechanical and ventilation equipment while allowing air extraction through the slats.

With a total budget of £11,650, the project cost only £291 per square metre. The kitchen cost £3,200 including appliances, around the same as a comparably sized IKEA kitchen.

Annual CO2 emissions data (requested in kg/m2/year) was provided as follows: 2,000-2,500kg


  • Begun: Jan 2019
  • Completed: Nov 2020
  • Floor area: 40m2
  • Sector: Residential
  • Total cost: £11,650
  • Funding: private
  • Procurement: Self-build with direct labour employed
  • Address: Forest Hill, London, SE23, United Kingdom

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