With a population of over 24 million, it’s no wonder that apartments are small in the Chinese mega-city of Shanghai. Thanks to clever space-saving techniques and design, however, making life pleasant in small spaces is more than possible, as seen in this recent apartment renovation on Kangping Road. Local architecture practice TOWOdesign transformed a tiny apartment into the 10 Degrees House, a multifunctional abode that uses enclosed volumes to cleverly delineate its various programs while maintaining an open and colorful character.

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interior of house looking at the bedroom


Despite the 430-square-foot apartment’s small footprint, the brief asked for a home that would include a bedroom as well as an office, entertainment area, storage and all other functions necessary in daily living. Rather than walls, the TOWOdesign inserted four “function boxes” with curved edges, each of which services a different program. The four boxes include the bedroom, bath, entertainment space and the centrally placed kitchen with integrated storage. All of the boxes are wrapped in light-colored timber, except for the kitchen unit that is covered in glossy, bright yellow panels.

kitchen unit

bathroom unit and kitchen

“However, some contradictions appeared after placing the boxes in this small space, especially the box for entertainment; it blocked the entire flow line and view of the whole space,” the architects said in a project statement. “Therefore, TOWOdesign made some adjustment to the previous design. They rotated all the functional boxes by 10 degrees; in this way, said problems were all solved perfectly. What’s more, the 10 degree rotation made some interesting intersections. For example, next to the box for resting, the intersection space happens to be good for installing a staircase with storage cabinets hidden, which is very flexible and practical.”

open kitchen

the living area

Related: This kitchen in a box makes it easy to cook in micro-apartments and tiny homes

The spaces in between the rotated volumes, such as the living room and open kitchen, feel spacious thanks to the use of white walls and large mirrors. Space-saving elements, like the folding dining table and plenty of hidden storage, help reduce visual clutter.

+ TOWOdesign

Images by TOWOdesign