When Hanoi, Vietnam-based SMA Architecture Studio set out to transform a dark and narrow two-story home into bright, open workspace, the main constraint was clear: a distinct lack of room to work with. Built in an alley between two existing buildings, the structure’s footprint measured roughly 8 feet by 13 feet.
SMA’s approach was to design a series of stacked vertical volumes, adding two mezzanine levels between the original floors and creating grate-covered cuts in the floors to increase light and ventilation. Every space in the home is visually linked by these “floor windows” so that someone looking down from the rooftop garden can see to the floors below.
Ample windows and a profusion of white-painted surfaces help to enhance the structure’s airy feel. And because it was built with easily available materials, costs were kept low.
The structure could easily be turned back into a home. But for now, the first floor serves as the firm’s lounge and receiving room, with a kitchen and flexible area on the mezzanine. The second floor is the workspace, while a second mezzanine offers storage and seating. It’s all topped by a roof garden with tiered planters.