House For a Physicist / ATOMAA
Text description provided by the architects. When your client is a genius, you may be asked: how can you change the idea of an unhappy past, while avoiding the tabula rasa? How can you make everything fit? The apartment in question holds with it a rather dark and unpleasant past, one which the client aimed to disguise in a project which brings new domestic life and a rewritten narrative to the apartment.
For this particular client, there was a need to provide: a real kitchen without compromise; a room for conversation with a hearth; a quiet reading room; a study with a map of the world; an alcove with a private bathroom; a bunk bed for the children (with a dedicated bathroom of course); and even a two-seat Jacuzzi and a Japanese inspired genkan where one can leave one’s shoes and walk barefoot.
The main challenges of the project were focused on the idea of memory. We were tasked with changing the living experience of the apartment in order to erase the ghosts of an unpleasant past, while still taking the utmost care in ensuring that the physical history of the apartment, expressed in its character and materiality, could be preserved in all of its glory. The materials which were decided to hold the greatest historic and aesthetic values were the cement floor tiles and the clear chestnut herringbone parquet flooring, both of which were preserved and restored.
The rest of the apartment makes use of free-standing and built-in furniture elements of warm laminated birch plywood, bringing warmth to the apartment. The use of level changes is the theme that reoccurs throughout the apartment. From the small entrance hall (the genkan) to the elevated bathroom, and even to a cozy elevated sleeping nook, the theme of level changes aims to highlight the constant transition from a dark past to a brighter future in addition to the obvious spatial benefits.