06/18/2012 03:42 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Zen Meets Tiny Homes: Movable Paper Walls Transform Spaces (VIDEO)

Rui Miguel and Sonia Lopez both work in confined office buildings, so they wanted a home with plenty of outdoor space and natural light. They settled on a 40 square meter (430 square foot) apartment in downtown Barcelona with few windows, but a roof space, a small deck and potential.

Hole in ceiling creates natural shower

Enter Miguel Angel of Miel Architects who convinced the couple to cut a hole in their roof to create an indoor/outdoor shower as the centerpiece of the apartment. From above the hole appears to be a simple planter on their roof deck, but below, the hole turns an otherwise windowless bathroom into a magical place. During a storm, Sonia and Rui now shower in the rain and all year round, the sunlight and plants create a tropical feel.

Shoji "paper" doors divide allow space to transform from one to four options

Inspired by Japanese homes, the Miel Architects not only made the bathroom the center of the living space, but he copied the concept of Shoji "paper" panels (they're often created using rice paper on a wood frame) as a way of dividing the home. Rather than traditional translucent panels created from rice paper over wood frames, the doors in the Miguel/Lopez home are solid, but like their inspiration they move in multiple directions, allowing for softer closings of one large space.

The Miel Architects don't simply view the doors as dividers, but as a way to change their clients' perspective on their home. "When you just have a bedroom, bathroom and a kitchen, you are always using them the same way, but if you have something that changes the relationship with the other pieces of the apartment suddenly you start to use it differently."

Watch Kirsten's feature-length documentary on tiny homes
: "We the Tiny House People: Small Homes, Tiny Flats & Wee Shelters in the Old and New World."