How to transform a space with plywood

We love materials. We’re not trying to keep that a secret. We love the simplicity and the complexity of them, we love textures, and tones and colours… There’s always something about that material – its unique quality which makes us fall in love.

As architects we work with materials, think about them, and constantly surrounded by all kinds of samples. It’s the best.

If you’ve been following our blog for a while now, you probably know we wrote about tiles, hardwood, stone, even OSB that managed to transform one apartment in Zagreb (which we find quite amazing).

So today we’ll write about plywood we love oh so much.

Plywood is a sheet material made from layers (plies) of solid wood veneer that are glued together and compressed under heat, each is usually about 3 millimetres thick. With each new layer of veneer that is added the board is rotated at 90 degrees, this maximises the board strength and it prevents warping and twisting.

The edges of plywood show all the layers of materials used for the board. Believe it or not, many people dislike(d) this material due to the unattractive look of the edges.

Unattractive? Come on!

We love exposed plywood edges! There are so many different types of joints between two plywood boards that makes this material so much more lovable and (we hate to say it) trendy.

Larissa Johnston Architects - Islington Maisonette | plywood | plywood in interior | plywood furniture | plywood shelf | plywood edge
Larissa Johnston ArchitectsIslington Maisonette // photo: © Rory Gardiner

You probably saw amazing furniture pieces scrolling through Pinterest or Instagram so today we decided to show you two amazing interiors where architects used plywood to completely transform the space. And you’ll see how beautiful and simple this material is whether you choose to expose those edges or not…

Larissa Johnston Architects – Islington Maisonette

The basic idea behind this Victorian maisonette was to maximise the space, add as much storage as possible to keep it clean and minimalistic and to bring in more natural light.

Before the renovation bedrooms were located on the ground floor and living spaces were on the upper level of the house. This way living spaces weren’t connected with the rear external courtyard. The architect decided to swap the position of those two and move the bedrooms to the more private upper level of the house. The kitchen, dining area and the living space, now located on the lower level, have a direct relationship with the garden.

Larissa Johnston Architects - Islington Maisonette | plywood | plywood in interior | plywood kitchen

Larissa Johnston Architects - Islington Maisonette | plywood | plywood in interior | plywood kitchen
Larissa Johnston ArchitectsIslington Maisonette // photos: © Rory Gardiner

To emphasize this indoor-outdoor relationship they also removed the rear external wall to extend the space. At the end of this living space a big glass sliding doors are opening to the courtyard garden and a continuous floor surface ensure a seamless relationship between internal and external space.
This big sliding doors along with a skylight above the dining area gives this space a great amount of natural light.

islington-house-larissa-johnston-architecture-residential-london_16

Larissa Johnston Architects - Islington Maisonette | plywood | skylight | dining space

Larissa Johnston Architects - Islington Maisonette | plywood | bedroom | white bedroom
Larissa Johnston ArchitectsIslington Maisonette // photos: © Rory Gardiner

Living spaces are designed as an open plan to maximise the sense of spaciousness. Here the architect decided to insert a compact and efficient plywood ‘box’ which incorporates a fitted kitchen, staircase, storage, and a study space. And a utility room and cloakroom that are neatly tucked beneath the stairs.

Larissa Johnston Architects - Islington Maisonette | plywood | plywood in interior | plywood box | plywood stairs

Larissa Johnston Architects - Islington Maisonette | plywood | plywood in interior | plywood kitchen

Larissa Johnston Architects - Islington Maisonette | plywood | plywood in interior | plywood workspace
Larissa Johnston ArchitectsIslington Maisonette // photos: © Rory Gardiner

This is an amazing example of a minimalistic space that consists of a beautiful natural material such as timber, plywood, stainless steel, polished concrete and white plaster. This restrained nature of the material palette complements the simplicity of the spaces.

Design: Larissa Johnston Architects
Location: London Borough of Islington, United Kingdom
Architect in Charge: Larissa Johnston
Area: 101 m²
Project Year: 2016
Manufacturers: Whitten Timber, Steyson, Sunflex
Interior styling: Emma Lynne Archer
Photographs: © Rory Gardiner

PHOTO GALLERY:

Maybe now, after seeing this beautiful home, you think ‘It’s easy to transform a big space like this with a plywood box. My apartment is too small for that.’
Well, maybe you’re wrong…

Bureau Fraai Urban loft A’dam

To convert a small former social housing apartment in the centre of Amsterdam into a spacious loft, Bureau Fraai got rid of all the walls, doors and tiny useless rooms, and focused on creating one solid wooden volume of birch plywood with extended wall cabinets alongside the whole length of the apartment.

 

Bureau Fraai – Amsterdam urban loft | plywood | birch plywood | plywood in interior | plywood box
Bureau FraaiUrban loft A’dam transformation axonometry

Now, we feel we featured quite a few apartments with ‘the box’ concept before. That’s because it is a good concept. You see, by incorporating bathroom, toilet, storage, sometimes kitchen and even bed (or box bed as in this case) in one volume – the space around can be freely used for living, dining, working, playing.

Bureau Fraai – Amsterdam urban loft | plywood | birch plywood | plywood in interior

Bureau Fraai – Amsterdam urban loft | plywood | birch plywood | plywood in interior | bedroom | box bed

Bureau Fraai – Amsterdam urban loft | plywood | birch plywood | plywood in interior | box bed | plywood bedroom
Bureau FraaiUrban loft A’dam // photos: © Wim Hanenberg

On the other hand, enchasing that one volume with statement material makes sense because it’s honest. The difference in material explains the idea. It says: we packed it all together, and the rest is free.

Bureau Fraai – Amsterdam urban loft | plywood | birch plywood | plywood in interior | dining space

Bureau Fraai – Amsterdam urban loft | plywood | birch plywood | plywood in interior | dining space

Bureau Fraai – Amsterdam urban loft | plywood | birch plywood | plywood in interior | dining space | plywood dining space
Bureau FraaiUrban loft A’dam // photos: © Wim Hanenberg

Design: Bureau Fraai
Location: Amsterdam, Noord Holland, The Netherlands
Architects: Daniel Aw, Rikjan Scholten
Area: 56 m²
Project year: 2015
Photographs: © Wim Hanenberg

PHOTO GALLERY:

Although plywood may seem too simple, its light hue and characteristic texture brings a feeling of warmth into a room, and really transforms an interior.

And we’re not crazy for loving it this much, it really is a beautiful material, don’t you agree?

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