Some urban situations including interior courtyard workshops allow exploring the codes of domestic life. Throughout time, the progressive desertion of industrial activities in cities led to the refurbishment of these edifices and the birth of a new word and living concept: the loft. Although the latter has some intrinsic characteristics – such as an empty space cut from a pregnant structure sometimes punctuated with autonomous elements giving it its hierarchy according to function or still, the trace left by past usages – these new lifestyle opportunities have one common denominator: the change of programming that bore them and the social and economic conditions linked to that change.
Insofar as it meets the interventions that synthetize the project, the generic definition in some way constraints the architects of bureau a practice to name it: a loft.
Prior to its conversion into two housing units, the former workshop presented a single unit volume structured in three spans and surmounted with a level that only partially covered the first two. The new affectation of the building defines a division following the longitudinal axis of the parcellar. Rather than imposing a rectilinear joining, this limitation follows the rhythm of the structure and floors by maintaining the necessary depth to house both storage space and lavatories. Through a composition in poché drawings, a wood cladding spreading over three levels subtly rectifies the discontinuity of this limit. Preserving the space unity of the studio, the domestic figure of the library is pushed to its paroxysm and frees “representation spaces”.
The north-south orientation and opposite buildings on the street mean that living areas have to spread out and deploy through the length of the section. Thus, an intermediate concrete floor on the last two spans divides the main volume. At the plumb of the latter, the ground floor digs into five steps into the ground. The entrance hallway opens up to visual escapements that this new division and adjoining walls offer, leaving to see the back of the building, where freely disposed textile objects undulate, thus dissimulating the private night quarters. The monumental staircase banister unrolls from the floors above, thus completing the painting of this space composition. Northern light inundates the volumes, articulating accesses to the living area whose generous height and proportions is not without recalling the high plastered ceilings of 19th century mansions.
But here, the ornament is not imprinted in the form but in the material itself, operating some sort of significant dichotomy when, by treating floors, horizontal plans are polished, discovering appear the motifs drawn by the aggregate and linking agent, whilst vertical surfaces reveal the asperities of lathing of the shuttering and flows of the polishing. Not a single element is there to articulate the joins, and the sharp edges provide a brutal, sharp contrast. The ambiguity around the concrete, the spiral that cuts the stairwell from the space and textiles and woods that inhabit the place all participate to a search for a new domesticity.