Studio Ben Allen Designed Flexible Furniture to Provide Extra Space for a London Flat

Studio Ben Allen Designed Flexible Furniture to Provide Extra Space for a London Flat

Project: A Room For One More / Flexible Furniture
Architects: Studio Ben Allen
Project Team: Ben Allen, Marco Nicastro, Massine Yallaoui
Fabricator: Top Notch Joinery
Location: London, United Kingdom
Photography: French & Tye
Text by Studio Ben Allen

Designed for a flat in London’s Barbican Estate, the brief was to find space for a children’s bedroom within the existing layout of a one bedroom apartment, a workspace to enable working from home as well as to provide additional storage space. The client was keen that the intervention would relate to the architecture of the Barbican and provide a high degree of flexibility to allow the growing family to continue living in their much loved but modest sized flat. The solution was to convert the existing dining area into a second bedroom by inserting a single visually unified architectural element that served as: wall, door, living room storage unit, drop down desk, home office storage, bed, child’s desk and seating area.

Studio Ben Allen Designed Flexible Furniture to Provide Extra Space for a London Flat

The Barbican leitmotif of the arch and inverted arch underlies the design and informs the niches for the desk and bed, the upholstered seat and the inlay front to the cabinets in the living room. The stepped circular sunken gardens and seating areas in the Barbican lake are reflected in the forms of the door and cabinet handles.

Studio Ben Allen Designed Flexible Furniture to Provide Extra Space for a London Flat

This and the other children’s bedroom the studio has designed in the Barbican are both underlined by a sense of playful adaptability in which uses are questioned or doubled up. For example, the desk becomes the steps leading to the bed post which also acts as both shelves and ladder. We hope to challenge the norms of what these objects should do or how they function or might be used and through their adaptability allow a more thoughtful and inquisitive use of the space both for children and adults (who are often as excited about using these spaces as their children). In this case that extends into the family areas of the flat and the pull down desk and many storage niches. The idea of defendable or refuge space is also important – particularly in this case where the apartment and new bedroom are relatively open plan – therefore the wall thickness provides deep niches for both the bunkbed and work area and the space under the bunkbed provides a covered sitting area.

Studio Ben Allen Designed Flexible Furniture to Provide Extra Space for a London Flat

Colour is used to reinforce these ideas – neutral greys contrasted with muted primary colours which give clear distinction to different materials or fittings but are also used to hide the difference between functional elements – encouraging the questioning of how they might be used.

Studio Ben Allen Designed Flexible Furniture to Provide Extra Space for a London Flat

Detail Flexible Furniture
The design is intended to provide a high degree of flexibility in terms of how it can be used or arranged. The desk folds away when not in use and is supported with a cable and operated with a counterweight to ensure ease of use. The lower steps for the bunk bed retract to provide a small child’s desk. The upholstered seat can be positioned under the bed or elsewhere in the room, freeing up the space under the bed for play and to access the additional storage located there. The bed can easily be demounted and sit on the floor or be removed altogether. Cupboards above and below the desk provide home office or work related storage.

kids desk, Studio Ben Allen

The structure was fully fabricated off-site and was installed in just two days. As the building is Grade II listed, the structure was designed so that only the track and frame for the sliding door are fixed to the existing fabric – all other elements are freestanding, thus the structure can easily be removed, leaving the fabric of the building untouched. Materials are robust and utilitarian; painted birch plywood, through-coloured wood fibreboard and brass. Key features such as the desk, bed and seat are picked out with subdued primary colours. The mirror shelf creates an interplay with the underlying arched and circular geometry of the Barbican and, from the living room seating area, provides a reflected view of the adjacent Barbican façade itself. When the bedroom sliding door is retracted, the two spaces flow together, and the existing hardwood frame window wall is uninterrupted as a visually continuous element.

kids bedroom, Studio Ben Allen

bedroom, Studio Ben Allen

Studio Ben Allen Designed Flexible Furniture to Provide Extra Space for a London Flat

blank

Newsletter HomeWorldDesign

To be updated with all the latest projects

Most Recent

Most Popular

Livesport Offices by Studio Reaktor

Livesport Offices by Studio Reaktor

The model for a new generation of flexible Livesport offices 2.0 aspires to become an inspirational leader searching for a new direction.
Beira Mar House

Beira Mar House in Aveiro by Architect Paulo Martins

Located in one of the most typical and established neighborhoods of Aveiro (Beira Mar), this residence is the result of a passionate and challenging reform, a reform which intends to return to the city and to its users a lifestyle which is free and in contact with outdoor spaces ....
King Apartment by David Barr Architects

King Apartment by David Barr Architects

This project transforms a gutted two-storey penthouse in Perth’s inner city, inserting a luxurious three-bedroom apartment into an ageing brick building.
Modern Beverly Hills Home

Modern Beverly Hills Home with Spanish-Inspired Interiors

Light, simplicity and materiality were the guiding design elements for this modest 3,000 square foot Beverly Hills home. Respectful to a neighborhood mainly consisting of Spanish-styled homes from the 1940s, scale and mass were kept comparable.
Wittman Estes Designs Civic Hotel, a Newly Renovated Boutique Hotel Near the Seattle Space Needle

Wittman Estes Designs Civic Hotel, a Newly Renovated Boutique Hotel Near the Seattle Space...

Located between the iconic Space Needle and the rapidly transforming South Lake Union neighborhood in Seattle, the Civic Hotel is a newly renovated boutique hotel at the corner of Harrison Street and Aurora Ave N.

More Articles Like This