A duplex apartment as urban villa
Having previously lived in a classic old row house, the family relished the opportunity to collaborate with our team on designing their new place from scratch. With exacting demands for materials and technical installations, they wanted this to become a showcase for cutting-edge interior design. But first and foremost it had to be a practical and welcoming home for a busy family with two working parents.
As the apartments were originally envisioned as single floor layouts, their merging into a duplex presupposed some crucial plan amendments. The ground floor with private garden was to accommodate the daytime living facilities while the first floor apartment was transformed to contain the night quarters.
In order to link the two floors a seamless internal staircase in a striking glossy white finish was installed by specialist contractors. Frameless glass balustrades complete the minimalist look of this sculptural intervention. The introduction of the staircase void opens up cross views and brings an increased spatiality to the home. This is compounded by the presence of an inset balcony on the first floor, next to the staircase void. This balcony is recessed into the facade which faces the neighbouring plot, containing a scenic cloister garden. The fact that the residence does not just have front and back aspects but the side facade — or effective party wall of the building block — has windows and views too, contributes to it feeling like a true urban villa.
When we reach the upper floor via the stair, we find the bedrooms organised around the light-filled outdoor room of this inset balcony. There is no dark corridor here, but a communal room around which the private realm of the bedrooms is organised.
Downstairs we find a similar space-efficient design, with a possible guest room / study in the central location of the balcony upstairs. This room can be completely opened up by means of glass sliding doors. In this way this flexible space with windows brings light into the heart of the ground floor and opens up the space located between living and dining spaces and avoids having a dark corridor near the entrance.
A simple and minimal palette of materials is used for the finishes. The kitchen, custom-designed by Bulthaup, integrates cabinetry in white laminate, stainless steel work surfaces and a kitchen island in dark walnut timber.
Large format ceramic tiles with natural stone look provide durable floor finishes in wet and heavily trafficked areas, while oak floors in herringbone pattern infuse living spaces with warmth and luxury.
Slatted doors to built-in cabinetry offer tantalising glimpses of their contents, while contributing to the open, spacious character of rooms. A vintage glass cabinet showcases family heirlooms and adds a more personal touch to the minimalist interior.