Everyone loves a hard loft. The cast-iron columns, concrete floors and wooden ceiling make the industrial space feel resolutely urban. But it’s the type of home that would seem more suited to an independent artist (if they could afford such digs) rather than a growing family.
And yet, in Berlin, the architecture firm Batek Architekten has shown that even a raw loft can be softened while retaining its hard-edged character. It has refashioned a 240-square-metre former factory space into a sweet homestead for a family of five using only a trio of main materials: wood, steel and polycarbonate sheet.
The enclosures that delineate the private zones feature built-in storage space.
The biggest move the firm made was to insert a series of boxes into the original footprint; these intimate volumes housing the bedrooms, guest rooms, bathrooms and studio form a type of house-in-house intervention. So as not to create the feeling of overwhelming monoliths, the architects broke up the shape materiality of these enclosures: three-layered solid spruce panel for the boxier structures and white stained-spruce for those with peaked “roof” tops reminiscent of classic house architecture. The volumes’ walls do not quite meet the white-painted ceiling – a way to keep the loft’s original structure legible.
To bring sunlight into these rooms, polycarbonate sheet was used to create translucent interior clerestories. And further breaking up the solidity of the set of structures, one of the volumes is topped in louvres that enwrap a “roof terrace” above the dressing room – a place for the kids to play and the adults and their guests to read and relax.
Adjacent the enclosed private zones, the common area – consisting of the kitchen and living space – is situated in the open original shell. And here, too, the firm introduced a serenity uncommon in lofts; a soft pink dining table (by Berlin designer Moritz Bannach), a stainless steel island and pine cabinetry form a cohesive and comforting whole.
With just three main materials, then, the architects managed to create a minimal ambience while maximizing space. At the same time as carving out territory for each member of the family, the boxes also contain shelving and storage. Their interiors are also painted in that warm pink tone, translating the inviting quality of home into the raw feel of the loft.