A 20th-Century Dutch Schoolhouse Now Holds a Series of Airy Lofts
Acclaimed Rotterdam practice Eklund Terbeek Architecten was enlisted to turn a 20th-century schoolhouse into six apartments. The studio’s founders, Jenny Eklund and Dominique ter Beek, were also responsible for the interior design of one loft, massaging the academic setting into a domestic one.
The loft was previously comprised of two classrooms with mushroom-shaped windows, and a wide hallway that ran parallel to the rooms.
The architects demolished the wall separating the two classrooms to create an open, spacious apartment.
The building’s 16.4-feet-high ceilings presented the duo with the chance to insert new intermediate floors and intimate mezzanines. They retained the unique, mushroom-shaped windows, but added a few apertures to create new sight lines, allow for more light penetration, and give the interiors a more expansive feel.
In the living area, a workspace is located in a white box that’s suspended from the ceiling. This box structure creates a second, lower ceiling above the living lounge underneath it, giving this zone a more intimate scale.
Behind the wooden bookshelf in the living lounge is a hidden staircase that leads up to the home office. From this space, the apartment’s owners can look out to the garden, and from a small opening in the white box, they can also look down at the kitchen and dining areas on the ground level, located at the opposite end of the living lounge.
The kitchen has a large, concrete island with an oversized extractor hood above it. This white, box-like hood hangs from one of the load-bearing beams, mirroring the cubic form of the workspace box on the other side.
In the adjacent hallway, the architects created a mezzanine level to accommodate two bedrooms with low ceilings and alcove beds. One of the bedrooms has an interior window that looks towards the hallway, and the other has an interior window that looks to the main living area.
On the ground floor, a wooden box, which houses a walk-in closet and stairs to the bedrooms, acts as a partition that dissects the hallway, creating a sense of seclusion for the section of the hall where the bathrooms are located.
The bath area was designed as a circulation space that’s directly linked to the dining area, but that can be closed off for privacy. The five original lavatories were updated and integrated into the new bathing area.
A mirror placed across the rear wall of the bathroom allows users to experience the original length of the school hallway, with its five toilet doors multiplied to 10 in the mirror’s reflection. What was the old director’s room next to the entrance was converted into guest quarters, and above it, a third mezzanine floor was added.
During the renovation, the architects saved as much as possible of the school’s original architectural details, such as the yellow glazed brickwork in the hallway. They applied a white render to the walls and load-bearing beams, but left the rough concrete ceiling exposed for a contrasting texture. The dark walnut wood of the bookshelves, dining table, and kitchen closets bring a warm and cozy feel to the otherwise pared-down home.
"The interior of the apartment merges old and new, contemporary and traditional, refined and rough, into a balanced whole," says ter Beek.