Tiny Taipei apartment turned light-filled family home

TYarchistudio has transformed a dark and uninspiring 452-square-foot apartment in Taipei City into an open and airy home that’s fit for a growing family.

  • Tiny Taipei apartment turned light-filled family home

Text by Yen Kien Hang

When natural light is the biggest challenge in your home renovation, any, if not all, available solutions have to be considered. In the case of House E&L, architect Wu Jianhe of TYarchistudio had first identified the culprit as the notably low ceiling height. He then proceeded to experiment with various methods to enhance the perception of height, including the incorporation of numerous ceiling beams. However, these attempts proved to be unsuccessful, given the structural constraints.

Taipei apartment

Furthermore, the intricate shape of this Taipei apartment also posed a unique challenge. With rooms enclosing the central living space, not only was natural lighting and ventilation lacking, but direct sight lines were also obscured. Given that the homeowners were a couple planning to raise a family here, Jianhe needed to take into account their child’s safety and security in the future as well. 

Taipei apartment

“After realising all these issues, I decided to introduce ‘light films’ to establish connections with the surrounding natural environment while also delineating distinct functional areas within the house,” says Jianhe. In essence, the house had to be separated into three parts – or ‘core axes’ as he termed it – to achieve different goals. Hence, it comes as no surprise that the design process took half a year to finalise, and construction continued for another eight months. 

The first core axis, “Natural Light”, is represented by a striking metallic ‘H’ shaped display and storage cabinet at the entrance of the house. With its pop of colour – inspired by the homeowner’s favourite colour “Hermes Orange” – this transparent structure has been illuminated gracefully with integrated curved light films and thus succeeds in guiding the extension of visual skylights, unveiling the spatial layout and weaving circulation pathways throughout the interior. 

The second core axis, “Concealed Storage Functionality”, addressed the practical needs of the homeowners. While the entrance open display cabinet served as a showcase for the couple’s years of study and travel experiences, other conventional storage units have also been brilliantly ‘hidden’ within the marble-inspired television wall and also underneath the custom sofa. With all its clutter out of sight, what was left was an interior that coincided with the couple’s appreciation for smooth and flowing lines. 

Taipei apartment

Last but not least, the third core axis, “Open and Transparent Circulation,” is best demonstrated in the dark and moody master bedroom. As Jianhe points out, “In Chinese Feng Shui, the bedroom serves as a sanctuary for sleep and rest, emphasising the need for a serene and dimly lit environment.” And so, by using darker-coloured cabinetry with transparent facades, he was able to seamlessly merge storage with the room’s circulation paths, allowing the space to ‘breathe’. Not to mention, the use of compartments in the dual-sided cabinets also optimised space utilisation, allowing natural light to infiltrate the space through its track system.

In this house, the interplay of light and space was nothing short of mesmerising. By staying true to his design ethos of designing “a life with the clients, closely following their experiences and expanding the possibilities of their future within their living spaces”, Jianhe has also engaged in discussions with the clients regarding a three-year lighting maintenance plan, ensuring the longevity and sustainability of the lighting solutions.

Indeed, with this after-sales service that’s rarely in place for homeowners, House E&L is truly a sustainable design plan that can provide light and lightness for years to come. As the homeowners have personally commented, “It feels just like living in a boutique; we can’t wait to come home every day!”


Photography by Yuchen Zhao

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