A small architectural studio in Cali, Colombia teaches us how to achieve maximal results in minimal space

During the first six months of 2019 I was living in Cali, Colombia, a city located in the Pacific region of the country. There I met Santiago Osorio, an architect from the Universidad del Valle, who showed me his apartments project.  His project consists of two studio-type apartments, which caught my attention immediately because of their optimization of space and design details.

Each unit has an area of 19m2 (205 ft2).  One was intended to function as a studio apartment, and the other was designed to be an office. The space of both units is identical, and they share the same structure – the first level is an open-space design, with a living-room, a kitchen, and a bathroom that has been strategically designed to also be used as a laundry area. Osorio integrated a kitchenette into the remaining space and a mezzanine of 12m2 (129 ft2) that allows the use of the space in a vertical sense, at double the height, accompanied by a large windows that allow for natural light to enter, allow for optimal ventilation, and form a strategic connection with the immediate landscape and the distant hills.

The atmosphere of the studio reflects an industrial style, highlighting the use of dirty brick painted rawly, with white electrical pipes exposed to the viewer. The stairs and doors are made of wood, and have fittings, frames, and railings of rustic metal.  The floors are made of concrete ceramic. The character of the material itself predominates; for this reason, the physical qualities of the material are not falsified with inks or paints, excepting some walls finished in white to allow better lighting.

The first level serves as a general workshop area, where desks have been arranged in niches resulting from the structure of the building itself, with columns protruding from the line of the wall. Lights for the desk hang from the beams, and provide a very pleasant working environment, consistent with the general morphology of the space. In the center is a large desk that serves as an integrated collaboration table and social interface between the team and the clients and visitors.

The second level has two workstations and is on a laminated wood surface that gives it a special warmth.  This space incorporates a sofa for visitors and informal meetings.

Attention to detail is paramount in the ambience of the space. A small library, attached to the edge of the mezzanine, gives strength to the loft ceilings, and emphasizes the spirit of the ideas that the office seeks to project, while, at the same time, introducing natural plants to elevate the spirit of work and the construction of a healthy and enjoyable environment for the members who frequent it.

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