A Hidden Passageway Makes Each Room in This Berlin Flat a Private Destination

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By Aileen Kwun / Published by Dwell
In Berlin, architect Itay Friedman thinks inside of the box to create a flexible flat optimized for privacy.

We demand a lot from our homes. At once a refuge and a space for hosting, working, and entertaining, it can be difficult to craft a space that can seamlessly transition from welcoming to peaceful and secluded. Those considerations were top of mind for architect Itay Friedman when he was commissioned to renovate a Berlin flat for a client who wished to both open up certain areas of the home, while keeping others strictly off-limits. An entrepreneur of a cold brew coffee business, the resident also wanted a private workspace to refine his products.

"The client had a clear idea and a dream of a loft space," says Friedman, "giving us the task to reinvent a typical old building block apartment into a style which it was never constructed for." 

The architect and his team readily addressed the material palette, listing metal, brick, patterned glass, and old-style factory tiles in line with the desired open plan and slightly industrial loft aesthetic; then came the core challenge of reorganizing the interior layout. 

A Hidden Passageway Makes Each Room in This Berlin Flat a Private Destination - Photo 1 of 6 - An antique floor lamp and signage pair with an oversize automotive painting and a rug by Rugstar in the main living space. The daybed and lounge chairs are from Norr11's Man seating collection; the pendant is from Cameron Design House.

An antique floor lamp and signage pair with an oversize automotive painting and a rug by Rugstar in the main living space. The daybed and lounge chairs are from Norr11's Man seating collection; the pendant is from Cameron Design House.

A Hidden Passageway Makes Each Room in This Berlin Flat a Private Destination - Photo 2 of 6 - Vintage details, like this metal floor lamp, contrast with parquet floors in a subtle nod to an industrial aesthetic.

Vintage details, like this metal floor lamp, contrast with parquet floors in a subtle nod to an industrial aesthetic.

Removing walls that spliced one corner of the 950-square-foot interior into three oddly sized spaces, Friedman consolidated the dining and kitchen areas into one central space; he also combined the bathroom and a storage unit into a single larger room. The architect then inserted a trio of custom doors to connect the remaining spaces to one another—each addressing a different purpose and function. 

"Creating an oval shape movement diagram, versus a linear one," says Friedman, "we essentially introduced the possibility to access every part of the space uninterrupted."

A Hidden Passageway Makes Each Room in This Berlin Flat a Private Destination - Photo 3 of 6 - A new custom glass door separates the living area from the kitchen and dining area while allowing natural light to filter through. When the living area is used as a guest room, the resident simply draws a curtain for extra privacy.

A new custom glass door separates the living area from the kitchen and dining area while allowing natural light to filter through. When the living area is used as a guest room, the resident simply draws a curtain for extra privacy.

The master bedroom is "the most secluded part of the apartment," says the architect. To set it apart and emphasize its sense of privacy, he replaced the single door leading to the living area with a set of old-style double-wing doors. A second concealed door, covered with a glass mirror to trick the eye, leads to a service area, which the resident uses as a home workspace to test his coffee products. Routing to the kitchen and dining area at the opposite end, the corridor-like space effectively doubles as a secret passageway that allows the resident to exit or enter the master suite without having to walk through the main living area, which often doubles as a guest room for visitors.

A Hidden Passageway Makes Each Room in This Berlin Flat a Private Destination - Photo 4 of 6 - Concealed doors make the service area double as a private passageway. A mirror-lined door connects to the master suite (left); at the other end, a pivoting shelf door (right) leads to the kitchen and dining area. For the resident, an entrepreneur of a cold brew coffee business, the service area is also his home workspace.

Concealed doors make the service area double as a private passageway. A mirror-lined door connects to the master suite (left); at the other end, a pivoting shelf door (right) leads to the kitchen and dining area. For the resident, an entrepreneur of a cold brew coffee business, the service area is also his home workspace.

"The concept creates an abundance of containing spaces, or as one would say, 'a box in a box,' creating self-sustaining spaces for living, working, and entertaining," says Friedman, who refers to the project as the Brew Box Pad: "A box can contain what you place in it, but most importantly it can become what you brew of it."

A Hidden Passageway Makes Each Room in This Berlin Flat a Private Destination - Photo 5 of 6 - A view of the pivoting shelf door from the kitchen and dining area.

A view of the pivoting shelf door from the kitchen and dining area.

A Hidden Passageway Makes Each Room in This Berlin Flat a Private Destination - Photo 6 of 6 - Removing several walls that previously partitioned the northwest-facing corner of the home into small, awkward spaces (left), the architect consolidated the interior into three main spaces, plus a concealed service area that can be privately accessed from the bedroom and dining area (right).

Removing several walls that previously partitioned the northwest-facing corner of the home into small, awkward spaces (left), the architect consolidated the interior into three main spaces, plus a concealed service area that can be privately accessed from the bedroom and dining area (right).