Basement Apartment Redesigned by HDD For a Family and Their 40 Cats

This property can be found in the basement of a Shanghai mansion. The mansion was originally built in the 90’s and featured several traditional elements.


In 2018 the space was overhauled to make way for a family and their pets. There are 40 cats and 2 dogs that the redesign needed to cater for.



The challenge of making the space work for people and animals was left the design group HDD. They collaborated with the clients in order to determine how best to approach the redesign – it’s no small feat given that the home measures just 516.67-square-feet (48-square-meters).



According to the designers, previously the animals and people weren’t sections off from one another. In such a confined space, this lead to poor air quality, and a variety of potential health hazards. One of the first things to do, was to devise a space that would better separate people and pets.


This separation was achieved by creating a “cats apartment”. It’s composed of a steel frame and mesh, which is faced in places with colorful poly-carbonate sheets. There’s also a translucent sliding door that connects the cats living quarters to the rest of the property.


The sliding door allows the owners to effectively shut off the flow between the two spaces when needed: “This sliding door as a key valve for the pet world and the human world. When closed, the human channel is completely open, and the connection between the apartment and the cat’s light core is also reduced, and the probability that the cat enters it is greatly reduced.”


On the human side of things, the living spaces have all been revamped. Translucent panels have been used to brighten living spaces. Arched openings give way to rooms finished in bright colors. The ventilation system has also been revised to ensure good air quality.


For more small houses check out Smelynes House, a small minimalist home for a family of four. Or, House 3 from Group Y in South Korea that slots into a small lot. See all small houses.

Photos © Yijie Hu, Shengliang Su

Niall Burke

Structural engineer by day, tiny house designer by night. Niall has a keen interest in small spaces, green design, and sustainability. He started developing Humble Homes while studying for his masters degree in engineering. He is the founder and managing editor of Humble Homes.

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