Open Architects


21st September 2013

Spacious 23sqm Micro-Apartment!

Coming back the issue of the small spaces, here we see how the architectural team at 3XA makes a stunning apartment in Wroclaw, Poland with only 23 sqm.

Again we are in a period building with a high ceiling, a feature that allows the architects to lift the bed off the ground and insert a bathroom and storage underneath. The rest of the space is now free for the daytime uses of kitchen and living room. Thus we have separation of day & night, public & private; while a sense of enjoyment of the overall space is maintained. The apartment achieves a quality of style that is simultaneously cool and warm using inexpensive materials such as plywood and painted render.

The lines made of plywood give a lovely and warm sense of the space, connecting different elements such as the bed, dining and staircase.

From the entrance, we pass through a low plywood ceiling into high period living-room, giving contrast and a factor of surprise.

Shelves (rather than walls) are used to give a mix of separation and connection between spaces



High kitchen units emphasise and make good use of the high ceiling



23rd July 2013

Charlies Apartment & The​ Living Cube

HBO's hit TV show Girls has provided many surprises, not the least of which is Charlie's Mondrian inspired studio-apartment. Its design is a study in how to live in a very small space.


Created by set designer Laura Ballinger Gardner, the design was submitted to the series' creator Lena Dunham for approval and then built in just four days.


The design was inspired the script:

"It looks awesome in here," Marnie says upon seeing the studio for the first time, "It looks like a Target ad. It's perfect."

"A Target ad?" annoyed Charlie responds, "It's not quite a Target ad, but whatever."


The bed is inserted into a plywood box giving both privacy to the bed and a chill-out area on its roof. The stairs is incorporated into shelves and a clothes rail.


The opposite wall is filled with storage, which is designed as a play on different sizes and colours with the same plywood material to tie the design together.

A similar concept underpins The Living Cube. Designer, Till Könneker explains:

"The idea was born out of a personal need to counteract the confinements of a conventional home with one simple and multifunctional design that will cover several different needs,"

The Living Cube is a single piece of free-standing furniture which combines the functions of sleeping, TV, bookshelves and walk-in-wardrobe.

Like Charlie’s studio design, this furniture element is ideally suited small, high ceiling bedrooms and bedsits, such as those commonly found in Dublin’s inner city. In such spaces the bed takes up a large proportion of the space, even though it typically only used at night. Lifting the bed off the ground gives additional space, function and focus in the room. The separation of sleeping from the rest of the space allows better daytime uses such as reading, studying and entertaining. Images ©Rob Lewis

20th May 2013

New Health & Safety Regulations for Small Domestic Projects

If you intend to start a new building project after June 1st this year, you will be required to notify the Health and Safety Authority (H.S.A.) and appoint Project Supervisors


Q1. What do I have to do to comply with this?

For all but the smallest projects there is an obligation to appoint, in writing, project supervisors for the design (PSDP) and construction (PSCS) stages of a project. Open Architects can fulfil the role of  a PSDP, while your builder will typically be the PSCS.


Q2. When is a project deemed to have started?

The project is deemed to have started as soon as the design process commences


Q.3 Do I have to appoint a Project Supervisor Construction Stage (PSCS) for a domestic project going on site after the 1st June where the design work has already started?

No. The requirement to appoint a PSCS applies only to projects where the design process commences on or after June 1st 2013.


Q4. Are some small projects still exempt from the new Regulations?

Yes, but these are very small, uncomplicated projects without a particular risk. Small (less than 30 working days) uncomplicated (only one contractor with no sub-contractors) and having no Particular Risk (Particular Risks are defined in the Regulations but risks are not confined to this Schedule and could include other risks). For example even the smallest extension would almost certainly not be exempt but an internal painting contract probably would be exempt. However most plumbing jobs will not be exempt as typically plumbers are appointed as sub-contractors.


Q5. Surely all this Health and Safety Regulation is  over-the- top for small domestic projects?

Yes, it is a very rigorous piece of legislation and carries very severe penalties in the case of a prosecution, a maximum 3 million euro fine and/or a maximum two years in prison.

On the other hand the studies in the UK and Ireland have shown that safety standards are much lower on smaller, domestic scale projects and fatality rates are much higher on smaller projects than on larger ones.


For further information contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 016689477

20th February 2013

House at Lake Okoboji

America's 'corn belt' hides a system of glacial lakes, including Lake Okoboji in Iowa. This minimalistic wooden house was designed by architects EB Min and Jeffrey L.Day and it is made from wood and recycled materials. The concept was to create an impression of a simple layout, so it looks like the smallest house in the area. However, a series of volumes allow ample space. Materials are used to provide privacy to neighbour and views to the lake and oak trees.


25th October 2012

House Extension - Site Visit

47 Anglesea Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4



The house extension is taking shape!



The ground floor of the return has been removed, opening up a large open living space


The house extension completely fills the unusual site shape, and the geometry is such to bring the garden into the house


Our client's workroom, he is building his own furniture and laying his own floors - we're impressed!