by Pallavi MehraFeb 22, 2021
Of late, our homes have become the primary setting for every aspect of our lives to unfold. With all the time spent indoors, now more than ever, we are all beginning to see the indispensable value of a well-designed home that caters to our tastes and interests while providing a flexible space to live and work. Aside from solely being a place of respite from the world outside, a home must embody our vision of an ideal interior environment, holistically reflecting our values while avoiding the extremes of clutter and utilitarian monotony. To a certain degree, this was the challenge that the Dutch design studio i29 Architects faced when designing the interiors of a loft apartment for an art collector and a writer.
Located in a former industrial area to the north of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, the apartment was part of a CPO (Collectief Particulier Opdrachtgeverschap / Collective Private Commissioning) residential scheme. Under this method of social project development, a group of individuals undertake a new build project as joint clients, following which they are each provided with the empty shell of a housing unit. The owners are then free to customise all the partitions within the space as per their requirements. In this particular case, the empty unit's shell housed a double-height 180sq m loft space.
"An open loft space without a prefixed layout and a double-height ceiling gave us the possibilities to realise a completely custom-designed interior, made to measure,” says i29 Architects. The couple owned an extensive collection of artworks in an array of sizes, ranging from small sculptures to large canvases and everything in between. Hence, their singular desire was to create the ultimate display and storage area for all these pieces within the space.
On establishing this premise, i29 Architects proceeded to calculate the exact amount of shelving required to accommodate the clients' art while devising innovative methods to satisfy these requirements within the given spatial constraints. "Making use of the double-height ceiling, we added a second floor to win more space for an office, a bedroom, and bathroom," explain the architects. They continue, "To display the collection of art in the ultimate way was our starting point, so we designed double height bespoke cabinets as well as integrated glass vitrines”.
An open area with a wardrobe and storage space is the first sight on entering the premises, and this zone leads to a high-ceilinged living area. Featuring Hella Jongerius' Polder sofa alongside an Eames-esque lounge chair - amidst a personalised yet uncluttered ensemble of furniture, the space has an open layout that flows into the kitchen. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide ample natural light and enhance the home's expansiveness.
The highlight of this space on the lower floor is the bespoke, double-height cabinet wall that acts as both a storage-cum-display space for the clients' collection of art and books as well as a partition that separates the living area from the kitchen. Its design emphasises the space's verticality, provides a visual link between levels and simultaneously places the art on 'center stage’. Finally, it also hides an integrated suspended staircase linked to a study area on the mezzanine level.
A kitchen and dining area are settled at the other end of this level, populated by glass vitrine showcases and similar bespoke cabinets - albeit, on a smaller scale. They showcase traditional ceramic pieces and sculptures. Two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a study area - featuring a 3D printed Dirk van der Kooij chair - occupy the mezzanine level on the upper floor. Artwork and sculptures are additionally placed against or mounted directly onto walls, about which i29 remarks, "Every single corner in the house is used for displaying the artworks, and almost every piece of furniture is a design piece”.
Most of the cabinets and joinery – the recurring elements throughout the house - are of larch wood and matte grey HPL, adhering to the interior design's relatively austere material palette that allows furnishings and artwork to bask in the spotlight. The flooring employs a polyurethane resin to match the colour and matte textures of cabinets, walls, and other design elements. "The stark and simple spatial interventions are in contrast to the colorful pieces of art, balancing and supplementing each other,” mentions i29 Architects.
Name: Home for The Arts
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Design: i29 Architects
Type: Residential apartment
Area: 180 m2
Contractor: Dubbeldam bouw
Interior builder: Coen Vleugel
(Text by Jerry Joe Elengical, intern at STIRworld.com)