When we veer off Ljubljana’s old town streets and start exploring the cities hidden atriums, we come across more modest and undecorated multi apartment houses, which were long ago intended for the maids of important city families. In one of those houses, built almost 500 years ago at the foot of the castle hill, we find a 63sqm apartment full of hidden memories and revealed details, reminiscent of the buildings and cities rich history.
The apartment originally consisted of three rooms and four construction units, which were rebuilt several times over the years according to the needs of new residents, which could also be seen by different materials used at various points in history. As the building got equipped with new electrical and plumbing installations, additional walls that run through all floors had to be put in, which now serve as load bearing walls and cannot be removed.
Prior to remodelling, the apartment was a one-bedroom one, consisting of a separate kitchen, bathroom, toilet, quite a few unused hallways and a large-sleeping area. With careful consideration and evaluation of new owner’s needs, we created a bedroom separated from the living area, a study, and kitchen without major interventions. Existing installations in the room with a vaulted ceiling enabled us to create a private bathroom that serves both the study and bedroom. A small window in the bathroom opens onto the now abandoned corridor/tunnel, which once served as a secret and quick escape in case of war attacks. Today it only serves as a service access to the exterior walls of the house. We kept the toilet in the existing place while we added the kitchen close to the installation wall on one of unused corridors. At the request of the owners, we placed the bedroom in an area with less daylight as they wanted to dedicate all of it to the rooms where they spend most of their day. On the other hand the study opens up to the terrace with two windows and shares some light with the bathroom via a frosted glass door. The living spaces in contrast are luxurious as most of life takes place there.
Since the owners decided to use a portable projector instead of a classic fixed television, we used a sofa that is adjustable and allows for various spatial compositions, orientations and uses. In front of a stone wall we added a floating element that merely approaches the wall and leaves every stone untouched and permanently unobscured. It serves both as a work space and projection screen storage. Even though the windows are irregularly inserted thus not allowing curtains to be placed in classically on both sides and though the apartment is small and was never intended for prestigious classes, whose home would be adorned with rich and decorative textiles, we managed to unconventionally place a curtain redefining it so it still brings softness, tactility and the desired functionality in the evenings while not giving the room and identity that does not suit it.
Custom-made furniture makes use of even the smallest storage spaces, while the offsets from walls, and ceilings subtly define the time intervention of both individual walls and construction elements, as well as our last design interventions. Cabinets thus end below the support structure also indicating to the time origin of the intervention. A composition of white cladding hides a passage in the back wall, made in previous renovations but concealed so the original space remains visible.
Storage space volumes were designed based on the maximization of light brought deeper into space and creating a feeling of openness when entering the apartment. An entrance to the toilet disguised in a large mirror wall tries to convey that space extended further before renovations made it smaller. An arched passage was discovered, reopened and fitted with a similarly shaped sliding door allowing us to connect the bedroom with the bathroom. The before mentioned sliding door is a mirror that created an illusion of depth in the room when it’s closed. Furthermore a change in floor composition and the remains of and old window in the wall passage indicates that apparently the apartment was extended beyond a once external wall.
We made the decision of restoring walls and ceiling to their old white wall plaster because the apartment had relatively little daylight. The stone wall that was opened by the previous owner was just painted in white. In this way we left a visible old wound/intervention, which with a new white colour paint fits in the background speaking only as a memory and leaving room for new life.
An old door probably the property of the previous owners, only slightly damaged by the ravages of time, was restored, painted in the characteristic colour of the apartment and reused.
The furniture design is clean and optimized for living habits and life of a specific family.
Clean simple lines don’t overwhelm the old frame, but subtly let it tell the story of past periods and owners. In the owners eyes a combination of warm beige colours combined with wood decors breathes warmth into the rooms and transforms this interior into a home. Red highlights and additional surfaces painted in beige make small dark spaces that are without natural light feel intimate and somewhat mysterious. However the same beige colours can act as a highlight in spaces surrounded by natural light. A careful play of colours, textures and metals is complemented by moving objects. The owner received two wooden chairs as a gift from his grandmother and represent a link to his personal history while the new wooden chairs form natural oak further emphasize the old ones. Special places in space are dedicated to different works of art, especially the statue of the renowned sculptor Metoda Maj, which adorns the living space.
Thus this beautiful 500 year old shell through careful reflection, conversation and evaluation of the existing situation, became a home where the buildings and cities rich history intertwines with the owners personal memories.
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