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430-Square-Foot Apartment With Paper Doors Features 'Natural Shower


"the same as everybody but hidden."

A look up into the shower. (Image: YouTube screenshot)

Modern architects have become masters at making smaller spaces feel more spacious. This usually comes in the form of eliminating walls and combining rooms, like the living room and dining room with an open kitchen. Walk into any 2000 or newer apartment building and you're bound to see this.

Some people want walls, but with the flexibility of an open design. Rui Miguel is one of these people. The solution? Paper doors.

Fair Companies -- also known as one of the tiny house documentary producers -- features the 430-square-foot apartment that draws inspiration from Japanese design with "paper sliding doors." What the designer also calls, the "soft closet."

Miguel Angel with Miel Architects says spaces like this are designed to "work like an onion." The most "insulated" or private area -- in this case the bathroom -- is in the centermost area. Each space working outward from there, Angel explains, is "more and more social." Here are the four options of how the space can be used with the doors:

  • The bathroom can be closed off from the living area, creating an open bathroom/bedroom unit.
  • When a guest wants to use the bathroom it can be closed off to both the bedroom and the living area.
  • The bathroom can be closed off leaving the bedroom open to the living quarters.
  • Or all the doors can be left open, creating one large space.

Click through this slideshow for photos of the space:

Interestingly, to bring the outside in, Angel created a garden box with plants that grew downward into the shower from the roof. Fair Companies explains this design further:

From above the hole appears to be a simple planter on their roof deck with the ivy plants disguising the depth of the descent (though the wood of the planter is the same wood of the shower).

From inside, the hole turns an otherwise windowless bathroom into a magical place. During a storm, Sonia and Rui now shower in the rain. During summer, the air is cooling and in winter, even with the glass closed, the sunlight and plants create a tropical feel.

You may even be wondering how the plants fair. Pretty well. Miguel explains he cuts the ivy down every week because it grows too much. The actual walls of the shower is made of clear and frosted glass, which Miguel says "adds a little spicy to our lives."

Bringing a cohesive feel to the small space, a large cabinet of sorts was built along one wall that serves as several rooms -- although you might not notice it. The black woodwork at one point in the apartment is the kitchen, hiding the fridge, freezer and even a wine chiller. At the other end of the home it is the clothing wardrobe. Hidden in the middle is a small half bath.

Watch the Fair Companies tour of the space:

As Miguel puts it, he and his girlfriend have "the same as everybody but hidden."

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