To twist a digital proverb: context is king. In some ways, it is hard to go wrong when the architectural backdrop for a project is so beautifully textured to begin with.
This World War II era factory was one of the lucky few in Dusseldorf to escape heavy bombing, its thick brick walls and pillars and deep concrete beams remaining relatively intact to this day. In such cases, simply adding some modern accessories and strategic lighting can bring out the best in a space – though that task can be more subtly challenging that it might initially sound.
Linear and blank exterior additions by AABE Erpicum & Partners let the original structure speak for itself – light-painted concrete, bleached wood and plain glazing simply add a new layer to the existing material palette.
On the inside, a series of simple white partition walls, counters, cabinets and appliances seem almost like guests in the home – few of the dividers reach ceiling height and most do not meet existing supports on either side.
Where intersections are essentially inevitable, tactical gaps were left to avoid dealing with the (perhaps impossible) task of joining new rectilinear forms with chipped and worn bricks or mortar.
On a small exterior patio framed by concrete sides and decking, a solitary tree stump was built around and found-food stools set nearby to keep it company. Part porch, part art, it makes a definite design statement.
Such remodels may not be to everyone’s tastes, but they sure provide a strong argument for rethinking abandoned and disused spaces – prior to the renovations and additions, this would have looked like anything but an stylish (let alone inhabitable) space.
“Bruno Erpicum was the architect entrusted with designing this warehouse conversion. It is now the home of a couple with a passion for architecture who were keen to make one of Düsseldorf’s rare ruins their own. The reconversion was closely overseen by the administrative authorities, since this old factory in the city centre miraculously avoided damage during the many bombings of World War II. Across from the coachman’s passageway are some garages that stand in front of the entrance court. The court is dotted with screens that flank the entrance and seclude off the ‘day patio.’ The history of the city is reflected in the glass panels, reminding you of the building’s heritage. A facade made entirely of glass stands completely independently of the old structures, showing off their immense scale. “
“The building is now protected against the elements and complies with energy performance requirements. The study opens boldly onto the garage and gym. The gloss painted furniture designed by architect Bruno Erpicum reflects the structural elements. A vast white space devoid of any accessories houses the sleeping accommodation in the conversion; the rotating door appears to be floating in the air. An enormous living room is arranged between the pilasters that are displayed with pride. The artist’s design highlights the existing brickwork that supports the flagstone roof; here again the wear inflicted over time is openly displayed. The architecture unpretentiously magnifies the materials. The kitchen is arranged in the exterior deambulatory. The bedroom is housed in a “white box” that has been perfected with the utmost care. It is encircled by a “night patio” illuminated using zenithal light that sweeps across the surrounding brickwork. The light itself becomes a material, rebounding off the objects it touches and reminding us of the building’s history. “