The clients for this small residential jewel have an expanding family but fixed walls.
Since they couldn’t expand upwards or outwards, they had to expand inwards.

We designed a Room in a room.

The project was generated from simple but severe planometric and sectional constraints, literally growing from its context.
Its volume tucks into a corner to take up minimum volume, yet its innards array to maximise internal utility and spaciousness.

It won a 2013 UK Wood Award, for which the judges invented an entirely new category, describing it as "the extraordinary translation of a huge idea into a functional product... deliciously mad and completely refreshing."
It was a finalist for the Architects Journal 2013 Small Projects Award.
An excellent article on it by Phyllis Richardson is here.

view of the Room:

The room packs a series of planes and pockets that carefully combine minimal volume with maximum pleasure. Barely shoulder-width at its exposed elevation, the room offers a rich, sensual, multiprogrammed journey from door to bed. The room is wrapped in thin structural plywood ribs that swell and retract as needed to provide integrated furniture, and to mete out a cinematic rhythm on the short but highly articulated journey through the space. Thin vertical mirrors between them double the room. Its outer skin is sheathed in a luminous, sensuous plasterboard skin that blends seamlessly back into the surfaces of the existing room, the room-within-a-room subtly swelling out from the corner like a growing force of life.

The room arrived in the back of a truck, flat-packed and rapidly unfolded into a set of submillimetre-perfect digitally-fabricated ribs that were connected and erected within a day.

Stairs for kids:

The room is accessed by a spiralling set of stairs that grow from the corner of the room and flow between the pillars of the entry portal, their lower levels continuing as a series of alcove shelves beneath. The steps offer carved timber floorstrips that fluidly trace the journey, slowly eroding towards the inaccessible rear of the step into a carved contoured topography that eventually melts away as a hole to reveal the steps below, their accumulated void similarly reflected by a mirrored floor beneath, from which the stair’s main lasercut steel beam springs forth.

The slender CNC-carved oak lines serving as front lips to the treads converge into a vertical web of lines which form a filigree handrail that curls round the corner and blends into the front edge of the shelves, turning to trace across the storage cupboard before splitting and looping along the shelf above the bed, around its window and back along both sides of the bed and desk, ending by merging and diving into the floor where they cross back to the graphic handrail line that first bore them.

Close-up view of stairs:

close-up view of the Room:

look into the Room:

The double bed nestles in a shaded timber alcove at the end of the room, hovering just high enough to allow passage beneath its cantilevered structure, yet low enough to be reached from a floor which thus had to be both lifted as high as possible from its host living room floor, yet low enough to leave enough head-room above it. The bed cantilevers over the floor to offer sufficient legroom for its future transformation into a generous desk as the children grow and migrate and the room becomes a workspace. The generous space beneath, originally intended as simply the vast storage space everyone dreams of, was so admired that it became a padded forestal lounge for “smaller people.”

view down over the edge

panoramic view up the stairs:

The front rib aligns with a vertical window mullion, affording fenestrated fire escape to the room beyond. Its timber frames the glazed entry door with a slim vertical portal that grows out of the floor and branches into the ceiling. The wall behind the portal frame then angles back to widen the room, cradling a horizontal desk surface which flows onwards into the bed itself.

view along the rythmic details:

Each subsequent rib sensually wraps around the room, exposed as vertical shelf supports to the south exposed in both floor and ceiling along their journey across into the acoustic plasterboard wall opposite. The ribs rise and curl backwards to support both the hovering bed and the desk cantilever, their surfaces lavishly carved to feed the views in through the cinematic glazing.

The bed wedges between a lightly-angled wall (which melts seamlessly into the ceiling of the room beyond) and a compact storage cupboard opposite, its side pulled aside like a curtain to provide integrated ergonomic bedside storage (which is further extended by a shelf above).
The bedrest is veneered with cross-grain walnut book-matched to form the image of a distant landscape, the timber grain recalling the extraordinary mountain formations of the landscapes surrounding one of the client’s hometown of Guilin; the horizontal book-matching illustrates the mesmerising mirror effect of the city’s mountains reflected in the ubiquitous wide local riverways. Abstract engravings of her favourite flowers provide foreground contrast and reveal the sectional archaeology of the timber substrate.

Photography of the construction, along with some earlier sequential drawings, can be found at

fish eye view up to desk and shelf supports:






Photography of the construction, along with some earlier sequential drawings, can be found at

Project team:

Design: atmos (Alex Haw, Friedrich Vitzthum, Sneha Sumanth, Marvin Schlindwein, Anamaria Spulber)
Structural Engineering: Blue Engineering (James Nevin)
Contractor: Ventsislav Borisov
CNC cutting: Object Design (Tom Vaughn)

With very special thanks to: Amy + Marcus