This Transformable Microapartment Has Secret Trap Doors Everywhere

The hidden compartments in this amazing Madrid space start with a table that lowers from the ceiling and ends with a secret “tea room” in the bedroom.

If you twist a handle on the wall of one tiny Madrid apartment, furniture suddenly starts to appear: A picnic table lowers from the ceiling, and a bookcase, and a hammock. There’s even a swing, and a hidden disco ball.


The rest of the attic apartment is full of similar secret spaces. “The hidden compartments were the starting point of the project,” say architects from elii, the Spanish firm that designed the home. “We tried to make the most of such a small space: a space that can be many spaces at the same time–just like a stage.”

Though other micro-apartments might use a few transformable objects–say, a Murphy bed or a sliding wall–this home goes quite a bit farther. More than just saving space, the architects wanted to create rooms that invited constant change.

“Every house, in its way, is a theater where you perform your everyday life,” they explain. “In this case, the apartment was designed for somebody who was starting a new life. In this domestic stage, she will be able to test and try it out.”

Transparent panels slide along rails to create different rooms–the kitchen can be separated from the living room, or the owner can create a temporary guest room.

Since the owner, a DJ, likes to have parties, the designers also made it easy to push the walls aside to clear the space. Since all of the furniture is hidden, the rest of the room is always open.

Upstairs, the floor is full of trap doors designed to make use of the spaces between the apartment’s existing wooden beams. Storage space is hidden in the bathroom floor. The bedroom even holds a hidden tea room.


Since the owner wanted a dressing table, the architects figured out a way to hide that as well. “We suggested including it as a secret dressing table that can appear all of a sudden,” they say. The owner can actually sit inside the ‘table,’ hidden in the floor; the back of the trap door holds a mirror.

The client is “in love” with her new home, the architects report. And they’ve been inspired to take some of the ideas used here into new projects.

“After this project we are very interested in the idea of the domestic theater: of giving the possibility to rehearse, perform and live as many lives as you want.”

About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.