Small Spaces: Inspiration & Delight

by Maggie Flickinger

Architects often discuss the concept of compression and expansion – a creation of experiential contrast based on the juxtaposition of open fluidity and cloistered comfort. In so many homes today, there is only the open fluidity, a reaching that expands and extends without the beauty of the contrast.

In London, a group of architects are exploring compression with the Architects Build Small Spaces exhibit at the V&A, where modest follies are placed in the open volumes of the museums’ exhibit & courtyard spaces.

Climbing a ladder to occupy Terunobu Fujimori’s whimsically austere tea house, or passing through the intricately crafted poetic arbor designed by Helen & Hard Architects, one is immersed in a different proportion – one of reflection, which allows for inner expansion.


Small Spaces Inspiration Delight
Images courtesy designboom

Playing with these proportions in varying architectural typologies can have insightful advantages. An office created a downscaled “conference” room, accessed via a diminutive trapdoor. The dropped ceiling height and the conspiratorial access created a palpable sense of intimacy, inspiring a free idea exchange rather than a stiff board meeting.

At home – and especially designing in Colorado – we fight the urge to constantly expose ourselves to the “view.”  We’ve found that consciously alternating between celebrating a view and blocking or screening it creates physical spaces that channel both emotional flight and mental stillness – as seen in our Home of Straw & Home on the Range.

Small Spaces Inspiration Delight

And, in the words of our associate, Nicole, “If you make a nook, kids will climb in!” At the Wild Bear Mountain Ecology Center, Nicole designed the Mud Lake Room – filled with nooks & crannies, rocks & tree rounds. When a group of children enter the Center, they’re immediately drawn to this space – they curl up, jump around, and laugh! For children, we’ve found that small spaces foster a feeling of safety and belonging, and within that mentality, exuberant creativity flourishes.

Small Spaces Inspiration Delight


As adults, let’s challenge ourselves to recall that intuitive attraction to small spaces – we may find our way back to a childlike mind or traveling toward serene consciousness in the process!

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