'Big Space Little Space' by Davidson Rafailidis is the low-budget adaptive re-use of a masonry garage built in the 1920s, where the main aim is to treat the space as a dynamic and ever-evolving space.
The project converted a general contractor’s former office space into a small dwelling within the workshop, creating a live/work space with the ability to change radically throughout the seasons. The project treats space as constantly evolving and ever-changing. Over time, most spaces stray from their original programs and develop lives of their own.
Big Space, Little Space, takes this transformative nature of space as its premise. Rather than dictating specific uses for designated spaces, a variety of spaces that can trigger unexpected uses are offered. These encourage formal re-interpretations and continuous construction by the various inhabitants over time. The square plan of the space offered few windows in relation to the overall floor area.
One strategy was therefore to treat the roof (concealed 12” beneath a parapet) as a 5th facade, and insert ten operable skylights and a roof hatch for natural light, ventilation, and roof access. Instead of clearing out the building and designing the interior from scratch, the existing forms/spaces were reinterpreted. An existing, partitioned area within the garage space was retained.
This “Little Space” was seen as the overlap between two bigger, existing spaces: the fenced garden and the garage/workshop. The “Little Space” can be read as part of both, – it can extend into both. The reading of the plan flickers between these different configurations. Big Space, Little Space does not dedicate spaces to traditional uses. Instead, the project offers spaces that are seasonally responsive and in flux, where inhabitation can retreat into the warm insulated Little Space in the harsh winters, and can spread into the “Big Spaces” – the generous garden, workshop, and roof deck in the warm seasons. In this sense, the living area can be anywhere between 464 sq ft to 5,165 sq ft. There is no stationary plan.
The spaces are rather offerings for temporary and informal uses. The objective was to create spaces that are useful for everything and where the meaning and usefulness of each space renegotiates with each new user.