Almost 20 per cent of Sweden’s population live in greater Stockholm, making the pressure for housing intense. Many of the city’s 180,000 apartments are co-ops. So, when you find a great flat, you are reluctant to leave it – even if it is a minuscule space in Vasastan. Enter the architects DRD-A.
The brief was simple. The client’s home was feeling cramped and he needed to make it bigger. But there was a problem: home was a 60 sq m flat several floors up in a 19th-century block on Hagagatan, a street in the heart of Stockholm’s Vasastan district. How could it be made larger, given the finite space of the building?
The challenge was taken up by Andreas Ferm and Jani Kristoffersen, the architects behind Directive Design Arkitektur (DRD-A), a company the pair founded in 2003 when they were fresh out of The School of Architecture at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. As with all their projects, Ferm and Kristoffersen stress that, “It’s not the size of the project, but the scale of the concept that matters to us.”
Their methodology always begins with a “storytelling” process. By defining the project’s “story” they find it easier to gain the client’s approval – in this case, a young man in the fashion industry.
Initially Ferm and Kristoffersen considered using mirrors to open up the space but then they settled on a deep, black darkness. “Mirrors have the potential to duplicate the space, but darkness conceals depth and blurs the perception of size,” says Ferm. “It makes it very hard for the human eye to judge distance.”
The old wall that divided the kitchen and bedroom was ripped out and replaced with a new divider made of Valchromat, a type of fibreboard. This angular sculptural structure has a folded or pleated appearance, and creates intriguing shapes that draw you through the apartment. It also seems to elongate the space. Ferm and Kristoffersen used a matt-black paint on the divider and this creates another illusion, that of depth.
The result is oddly sensual – as with an Anish Kapoor sculpture, you want to reach out and touch the blackness. And concealed in the darkness is the much-needed storage shelving. The black partition stands in strong contrast to the other walls that have been painted white and also the white-glazed oak floors. The overall effect is both eerie and beautiful.
DRD-A is currently working on an art centre in the Swedish town of Falun and a showroom for Scandinavian design in Las Vegas; and the angular yet tactile forms with which they work are used in both. For once, cutting corners offers a stunning design solution.
DRD-A: + 46 8 5558 8070, drd-a.com