This compact apartment in Xi’an, China, is custom built for the Airbnb economy. Located in a bourgeoning commercial district, the 430-square-foot apartment intended as a short-term rental plays with scale and space in order to transform a simple layout into something much more interesting.
Wall Architects of XAUAT removed a wall that split the apartment between a living room-bedroom area and a kitchen. Now, the open-plan layout flows from one end to the other, save for what’s best described as a built-in seating cube that floats in the center of the space.
This volume aims to facilitate different activities depending on where you are in the space. A large opening connects to the apartment’s corridor, while a desk on the west side of the cube connects to the bedroom area. A built-in storage space is closest to the bathroom, while cushioned seats at various heights encourage relaxing in the cube like a private hideaway.
It’s an interesting, if slightly counterintuitive, take on how to get more out of a small space: Instead of leaning into open and airy, a roadblock adds a layer of utility that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.