One of the main dilemmas that architects face when renovating old buildings, especially those that are not of great historical or architectural value, is how much, if any, of the original character to preserve and how much to efface in favour of their own design. For Kiev-based architecture studio 2B.group, who were commissioned by a young single professional to refurbish a maisonette in a listed building in Kiev, the answer to this dilemma was an astutely tuned balance between old and new, authenticity and originality, beautifully highlighting the passage of time through a minimalist aesthetic of 'less is definitely more'.
When working with historic buildings like in this case, 2B.group's objective is to use the original building fabric as a canvas upon which new shapes and textures can be introduced. It was therefore very important to preserve and restore as many of the building's authentic features as possible, including the original brickwork hiding behind layers upon layers of plaster, the old timber ceiling joists, and the sloped walls in the attic.
The painstaking repair process included cleaning and coating the lumber joists with lacquer, the handpicked replacement of damaged or missing out on bricks-- the most time-consuming stage considering that they needed to find bricks of the same age-- and the careful refurbishment of the ornate fireplace whose decorative bas-reliefs stick out in the middle of the minimalist visual of the renovated interiors.
Shunning the use of color entirely, a soft combination of black, white and grey was chosen for all of the architectural interventions in order to harmoniously blend with the restored building material. For the lower level, which consists of a living room and an open-plan kitchen-cum-dining area, white wall panelling unites and brightens up the two areas without totally blocking the initial brickwork. Wall panelling was also used in the personal quarters upstairs, albeit in a dark grey, however in this case its role was to straighten the attic's sloping walls. Although primarily dark in colour, the attic, which includes a master suite total with restroom, walk-in closet and office, and a visitor bedroom, is brilliantly lit thanks to many windows and skylights.
The attic's dark tones are gotten by the metallic staircase-- a bespoke, multi-faceted cuboid structure that was assembled on website-- and the metallic frames and jambs of the downstairs windows, along with several furnishings pieces and light fittings throughout the living spaces. The application of this monochromatic sensibility ties together the two levels in spite of the fact that the attic has been dealt with as a modern loft whereas the lower flooring proudly bears the structure's olden character.
The minimalist décor of muted tones and clean lines belies the complexity of the architectural interventions such as the built-in window blinds concealed in the paneled walls in the attic, the staircase assembly, and the soundproofing of the guest restroom in between the living and dining locations. And it is this attention to information that eventually makes this apartment or condo not just a marvel to look at however likewise a comfy space to live in.
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