The leafy streets of Saavedra are among the most desirable in Buenos Aires, access to parks, recreational areas and sporting facilities means the price of a square metre is close to the highest in the Argentinian capital.

Lucianno Intile is the founder of iR Architecture, the firm that designed Quintana. In a relatively permanent case of practicing what you preach, Lucianno calls one of the 32sqm apartments in the complex home.

Intile being filmed for Never Too Small

Quintana houses 14 people in 9 apartments under 50sqm on a small plot of land that used to have a one-story house on it. When Intile came across it, the house was unsalvagable due to years of neglect. If the land was to be used to its potential the house needed to be knocked down.

Thinking of the sort of environment that he knew would sustain him personally, Intile set to creating a building that, through using good small footprint design principles, would provide an affordable, yet high standard of living for the residents, with a focus on community building through shared common areas. Future residents were involved in the decision-making process, codesigning with iR Architecture their perfect future home and community. These community zones appear throughout the complex as an art workshop, a shared office on the lower floors and a multi-purpose common room, and outdoor green space on the roof for residents to gather.

Of course, any Architect that finds a way to place so many community areas and apartments into such a small footprint is of course going to work wonders with the interior of his own space too. While the footprint is small, the ceiling heights in Intile’s apartment are generous, 3 meter high ceilings provide volume and let the available light do more, with the polished concrete providing a large reflective surface for further amplification of the light. The height is again utilised for storage, above the kitchen and bathroom.

The sleeping space is above the wardrobe, another example of a raised bed providing a large storage solution directly beneath it. The drawers beneath the bed pull out to provide hanging space, more storage as well as a small staircase to provide easier access to the bed. The bed has been designed to take advantage of the view and a bed-to-ceiling shelving unit provides access to personal belongings to elevate the bed from being more than just a place to sleep but a place to relax and unwind.

The shelving ensures there more to do in the bed than just sleep, while the storage below serves as a pull out wardrobe, drawers and a set of stairs.

The bathroom and kitchen are accessed through bi-fold doors and each shares roughly the same footprint as the sleeping space. The bifold doors provide a nice wide entry to each of the rooms ensuring the private spaces don’t feel too claustrophobic or detached, they are an elegant solution to creating a wide opening without needing a whole lot of space to swing the door.

Both the kitchen and bathroom have been well appointed and residents want for very little. The kitchen houses a cooktop, fridge, dishwasher, oven, and plenty of storage (including a pantry) while the bathroom utilises a wall-to-wall mirror to amplify the available light and even accommodates a laundry.

Aesthetically, the rooms are joined by the usage of green tiles on the walls of the bathroom and splashback of the kitchen.

It’s no surprise that an architect that either physically or figuratively places themselves in the shoes of future residents will design a home that feels so liveable and connected to the community. More and more we are seeing architects and design firms go beyond their own ideas, and genuinely engage the community they are looking to build for. While expertise will always be valued, the practice of co-design can only lead to a better result for the wider community and it’s wonderful to see this emerging trend in the way we design the places and the way we choose to live.

Snaps by Federico Cairoli