Any apartment renovation is a complex task, but to renovate an apartment in a historical building is a big challenge for architects.
Dynamic between the old and the new is always present – sometimes due to financial and other times due to sentimental reasons – but in historic buildings, as architects (and owners!) we almost have the moral obligation to preserve everything worth preserving – to even enhance it.
Oh and how we love to study new ways of combining the old and the new. We love to see the story of an old apartment adapted to meet the current needs of its owners. And we know you love that, too.
And we know you will love this apartment in an art déco mansion in Vienna (built in 1931.), as much as we do.
Architects from IFUB* were hired to renovate a ground floor apartment that was in a good, but a time-worn condition. Clients’ wishes and a strong personal connection to the apartment, as well as the prior renovations, had to be considered in the design.
Therefore, the main source of inspiration was the apartment itself. Many original materials and built-in furniture were kept where possible – to preserve the original character, but also in terms of sustainability.The floor plan of the apartment was only slightly changed to create a more functional layout. Windows were only refurbished and freshly sealed, and a big part of the flooring was uncovered, cleaned and waxed instead of being removed. Old wall tiles were carefully removed only to be used again and all existing historical details, if a preservation was not possible, were newly interpreted.
As architects, we love to see the strong identity of an apartment after renovation.
Replaced were only the building utilities – to make a place for newer and more effective technology. This all was part of the architects’ sustainable concept for this apartment.
Let’s take a walk through this apartment:
The central entrance room is quite small, but effective interventions helped to optically increase the size of this room – like smaller pieces of furniture and a big mirrored cabinet. Also, the light grey walls combined with a white and illuminated ceiling elevates the room.
Behind the mirrored door of the cabinet, all the building utilities are hidden. This is the most efficient position for all the utilities since the entrance space is in the centre of the apartment.
From the entrance space, the former lobby leads to the big kitchen.
The biggest changes were made in the kitchen. By removing two walls, the old kitchen was almost doubled in size – which made a lot of sense since the apartment is quite big. Positions of the removed walls are still visible in flooring. The tiles are on the part of the kitchen where all the preparations and cooking is happening and a dinning part features beautiful old parquet flooring.
New built-in furniture contains a niche with the sink that is fully integrated and similar to its old counterpart on the other side of the kitchen.
Details with the black steel frame appear in various elements around the kitchen. Entering the kitchen there’s a big storage space with the apothecary cabinet storing all the big necessities, and an old family kitchen cabinet that is integrated within the built-in furniture.
The same steel frame is set underneath the top kitchen elements. Above the kitchen island is the hanging steel shelf with lots of storage space, and under the island is the same steel base – slightly offset on the part that is used for seating.
The architects used the modest surfaces in combination with this black steel frames to bring order and clarity to the rooms. This steel frame detail is also used throughout the apartment.
The small toilet was outspread to the part of the hallway to create a bigger shower bath. The light terrazzo floor, in combination with the bright plaster walls and a small oval window at the end, makes the room feel open and airy.
The layout of the shower tiles creates a checkerboard pattern that combines new and old tiles.
Once again, the steel frames are used as furniture pieces – as shelves and frame rails for storing bathroom necessities above and underneath the sink.
The original dimensions of the master bathroom were not changed, but with the better organization, it feels a lot bigger. Here the design follows the same principles as in the kitchen and the shower bath.
The clean look is intensified by the dark terrazzo floor that works perfectly with this colour scheme and black steel frames.
Behind the sink, the whole wall is mirrored. It’s storing the small storage cabinets but also hiding the existing door into the library that the client wanted to keep.
The living spaces were only slightly altered by the architects. They refurbished the windows and parquet flooring and took down the old wallpapers. The bordure between walls and ceiling is now a black line of light that divides white walls and grey ceiling, but even this difference in colour is not visible at the nighttime when the ceiling is illuminated – another great detail in this apartment.
Actually, every detail in this apartment is quite special. The contrast between the soft edges of the existing elements and straight lines of the metal frames. The newly interpreted black bordure which was kept after removing the wallpapers. The charming wooden windows which are nowadays, sadly, being replaced more often than not. The old-school doors and cabinet fronts, which are just out of this world.
To preserve what is worth preserving. Sentimentally, okay, but more important – objectively. And that’s exactly what IFUB* did here. And what a wonderful home they created!