Cover In a project by JOW Architects, the glass barrier adds a sense of lightness to the mezzanine area of the bedroom

Mezzanines offer additional floor area and many creative design possibilities. We ask architects on the things to take note of when incorporating these spaces into a home.

The word ‘mezzanine’ is derived from the Italian term mezzo, which means ‘half’. It typically refers to an intermediate floor in a building looking down onto a double-height space. There are many advantages to having a mezzanine in a home. Functionally, they provide additional floor area. Aesthetically, they connect two separate spaces in an informal way.  
In 2015, changes to the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Envelope Control Guidelines in Singapore did away with former pre-determined storey heights for houses in the city. As long as the overall internal height complies with the permissible building envelope, architects can be free with their creativity when it comes to creating mezzanine floors.  

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“Floors can be staggered to be interconnected and high-volume spaces can be created. In short, it potentially allows for the creation of more inventive and rich spaces if the motivation is not about maximising floor area,” says Alan Tay, managing partner and principal architect at Formwerkz Architects. Such visual and spatial transparency is not only uplifting but can help to improve the spatial connectivity in a home. 

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Joseph Wong, co-founder of JOW Architects advises adhering to the local compliance guidelines; in Singapore, this includes the provision of a safety barrier, as well as access stairs and platforms that are structurally designed and certified by an engineer.  
“There should also be tadequate floor-to-ceiling height in order to achieve the required clear headroom of two metres at both the lower level and the upper level. If the mezzanine is to be inserted into a current home, one should also note if the existing structure is able to accommodate the additional loading of the new mezzanine platform. A structural engineer can help design this properly,” he says. 
What are some other aspects to consider when one desires to incorporate a mezzanine in one’s home? Here are some beautiful ideas you can start with.

Work it Out

“Mezzanines use spaces effectively by optimising or stacking over spaces that don't need high ceilings,” affirms Tay of Formwerkz Architects. As such, they are particularly useful for functions such as home offices or study rooms, play areas, and gyms. This is seen in the Window House, a home in Singapore designed by the firm in collaboration with Super Assembly.  
“The workspace is connected to the voluminous living area, but the two spaces are functionally detached and organised to operate without affecting each another,” Tay explains. Here, a parent can do work while watching the children in the living area.

Raise Your Glass

In an apartment that Wong designed, he took advantage of the high ceiling in the master bedroom by inserting a double-storey wardrobe area. The top level of the wardrobe is accessed via a staircase and mezzanine. The result is both useful and dramatic.  
“This apartment has a high floor-to-ceiling height of 4.2m. But because of the master bedroom’s small footprint, the access to the mezzanine floor has to be designed to take up as little space as possible physically, and to look as elegant and delicate as possible visually,” he shares. This is achieved by constructing the spiral staircase and mezzanine with steel framework to minimise loading while achieving a look of lightness.  
“The underside of the spiral staircase is also clad in timber to visually blur the distinction between the top plane and bottom plane and to create visual interest. For the glass railing at the mezzanine floor, glass was selected to achieve transparency so that the full height of the wardrobes at the mezzanine floor can be similarly appreciated as the wardrobe on the lower floor,” explains Wong.   

Point of View

In Envelope House by A Solid Plan, a staircase landing is expanded to become a balcony overlooking a large atrium. It offers a spot of pause and a central vantage point to observe the other family members going about their daily domestic routines.   
Having a mezzanine offers a sense of luxury, says Mikael Teh, founder of design studio Monocot. “I see space and volume as luxurious rather than [things like] extensive cladding.” This is palpable in the Braemar House that he designed. The grandeur of the voluminous living and dining room is appreciated from a mezzanine that functions as the client’s study room.  

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