This remodeling of a small ground floor storage space cum garage into a micro-loft sits within an existing historic shophouse that was completely converted in the early 1990's into an apartment building. Arranged within a 3m wide by 30m long space, the apartment features the familiar succession of increasingly private spaces: living room, dining area, a narrow hallway with the kitchen on one side and the bathroom on the other, and at the end the bedroom/study. It is one open-plan area - a sequence of living and dining spaces all open to each other. They are shielded as well as connected by wooden sliding panels, creating a flowing interior space defined by two solid elements which accommodate auxiliary functions. Daylight enters both from the windows facing the street and through the sliding doors that lead seamlessly out onto a patio situated half underground at the back of the project. Each of these areas are designed not as separate compartments but as an evolving sequence of spaces, articulated to take advantage of the endlessly shifting qualities of natural light and the existing views towards the vibrant street life.
The loft is specifically designed as an apartment for a wheelchair-bound inhabitant, yet there is nothing that even hints at a handicap. The selection of materials for the living and sleeping areas provides an elegant, calm atmosphere, whilst the enclosed elements are envisaged as cabinets using precious ceramic materials, produced nearby. On the outside of the building, the repurposing of the ground floor entailed changing the front entrance to create a ramp to the client’s front door, a new communal entrance for the upstairs neighbours and - inside the communal hallway - a second entrance to the client’s apartment. Inside, kitchenware, refrigerator, oven and clothes are stored along the walls behind sliding panels of rough-sawn oak. With the push of a button the kitchen cupboards can be lowered until they meet the countertop, making everything reachable from a wheelchair, while at the same time closing off the cooking area from view. A similar strategy is deployed in the bathroom where the toilet and sink are separated by a large panel from the area containing the shower and washer-dryer. This panel can be rotated to close off only the washer-dryer from view (revealing only the shower) or hiding both, in which case the bathroom effectively becomes the guest restroom.
Almost all of the furniture is custom-designed, both for the occupant’s convenience and in order to comply with Belgian disability codes. The dining table, a table for 5, has built-in shelves at both ends and juts off at an angle towards the kitchen – reserving a discreet space for the client. The bed, combined with a 'floating' desk at the head end, contains all of the technical requirements of a hospital bed, including adjustable height for the entire bed, the head, and the feet, removable side rails and electronic buttons to operate both the bed and other nearby electronic devices hidden in a custom lamp design that can swivel to light both the bed and the desk.
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