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Madrid accordion home: transforming walls get 5 rooms from 1

Yolanda Pila wanted to convert her grandparent’s forties-style tiny home on the outskirts of Madrid into something that would fit her more modern lifestyle, as well as an in-home design studio. At her invitation, PKMN architects redesigned the 50-square-meter (538 square feet) home using sliding shelving units to create rooms that expand and disappear depending on the time of day.

The movable modules are common in warehouses and commercial spaces (they are suspended from the ceiling on rails), but here the architects appropriated them as flexible walls for the different rooms in Yolanda’s home.

One module houses the kitchen on one side (2 fold-down tables and storage for kitchenware, cleaning items, etc). Move the module and the kitchen closes (or simply shrinks) and the other side reveals a blackboard for Pila’s home office (a design and branding firm).

The second module has more office on one side (mostly storage for her materials). Move this wall and the bedroom opens up; complete with a pull down bed, a removable side table and lamp, as well as an ample closet with plenty of drawers).

Behind the final wall is the bathroom which can remain narrow during the day (when only needed as a WC) or grow during the morning or evening for dressing room space or to “shower while watching the news”.

The sliding walls are made of OSB (oriented strand board) which was not only an affordable option, but one that fit their design sensibilities.

The architects estimate these transforming walls and furniture probably cost 10 or 15% more than a conventional remodel, but that doesn’t include the money you’d invest in conventional furniture and as Yolanda points out, it’s also an investment in lifestyle. “Even if it were cheaper to make a normal house with rooms, there was the risk that I would run. For me this house is an ideal office, and on a personal level, it’s an experience that I enjoy.”

Architect Carmelo Rodríguez sees the home as a response to the current challenge of living well with less space. “Space keeps getting more expensive and it uses a lot of energy. We have to look for ways to live smaller, but without losing the benefits of quality spaces. We think this way of opening and closing heads in that direction… it’s a bit like pop-up architecture”.