The Jordaan district of Amsterdam was built in the 17th century as a working-class neighbourhood, evolving over the years to become a vibrant and highly sought-after residential area. its layout of narrow, tree-lined streets and picturesque canals exemplify the traditional Dutch concept of a “grachtengordel,” or canal belt.
Recently, the Jordaan district has become notable for its adaptive reuse of buildings. As the neighbourhood has gone through various phases of transformation, many of the old warehouses and industrial buildings have been repurposed into residential spaces, galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. This preservation and adaptation of historical structures contribute to the district’s cultural value and provide a sense of continuity with its past.
Designed by Carla Radoll and Bruno Graca of Hum Studio & Gallery, this 33sqm/355sqft apartment in Amsterdam is a great example of adaptive reuse done well. The architects, who also happen to be the owners, aimed to create a space that combines the charm of a hotel with the comforts of home.
One of the key inspirations for the design was the use of natural materials, which dictated the overall colour palette of the apartment. Radoll and Graca wanted to create a blank canvas that would showcase their cherished collection of objects. Inhabitants of the apartment include the architects themselves and their dog, Mr. Fox, who often enjoys sitting by the window, gazing out onto the world.
Originally, the apartment followed a conventional layout with a closed-off bathroom that lacked natural light. Seeking to infuse the space with brightness, the architects made a bold decision to open the shower into the bedroom, incorporating a bathtub and vanity into the bedroom area. This unconventional approach not only brings in light but also adds a touch of luxury reminiscent of a hotel suite.
To maximize the use of space, the L-shaped kitchen in the corner was removed and replaced with a longer, linear kitchen that spans the entire length of the wall. As you enter the apartment, the kitchen, dining area, and living room seamlessly merge into one another, while still maintaining their distinct identities. The living room is cleverly separated by a unique design and occupies its own cosy nook within the home. The sofa, adorned with a metal plate at the bottom, appears to float, reflecting the floor and creating a sense of illusion.
Lighting plays a crucial role in the apartment, serving both functional and aesthetic purposes. Wall-mounted lights illuminate the artwork and provide reading light, while also contributing to the overall ambience of the space. A pendant light made entirely of brass hangs gracefully above the dining table, adding an elegant touch.
In the bedroom, a large wardrobe spans one wall, offering ample storage. A sink with slender legs creates a floating effect, maintaining a sense of spaciousness. A ledge above the sink and bathtub cleverly conceals services and provides additional storage options. The shower is adorned with handmade tiles, simplifying the space and reducing the number of different finishes. Throughout the apartment, the original parquet flooring has been retained, lending warmth and character to the entire space.
The toilet has been intentionally separated from the rest of the apartment, ensuring its accessibility to guests while maintaining privacy. A graphic design wallpaper adorns the walls, imparting a cosy and distinctive atmosphere.
To maintain a connection with the local community, Radoll and Graca carefully select local pieces to support local artists. By upgrading existing spaces rather than engaging in extensive construction, they minimize their impact on the environment.
In this small yet thoughtfully designed apartment, Carla Radoll and Bruno Graca have successfully blended simplicity, natural elements, and touches of luxury to create a unique living space reminiscent of a boutique hotel. The result is a harmonious balance between aesthetics, functionality, and sustainability, offering a haven of tranquillity in the heart of Amsterdam’s traditional neighbourhood.
Images by NeverTooSmall