Creepy Basement to Fabulous Flat!

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The basement area of an Altbremer Reihenhaus (a typical historic dwelling located in the German city of Bremen) located on Mathilden Street, was constantly reconfigured over 100 years and repeatedly adapted to suit a variety of different functions. 

As a result, the home had a number of separate rooms, dark chambers and labyrinthine passages. Additionally, the basement was recently converted and divided into separate two-bedroom apartments, which created a truly inviting space. Thanks to the experts from Wirth Architekten the potential of these disused dwellings was seen. Utilising a comprehensive approach the architects were able to create a very convincing design and were in turn awarded winner of the Preis Schöner Wohnen Designpreis, a highly distinguished German design award.

Before: a sorry sight

This image shows the dark, squat and distasteful previous works of the living space, which features an opening to the courtyard. As the apartment is on the ground floor, many challenges arose, including difficulty with lighting conditions and a lack of natural illumination. Additionally, the small openings that did exist were tiny, meaning the light had little opportunity to penetrate the interior. The architects' fresh approach envisaged a generous opening up of the unused rooms that faced out to the courtyard, and the area after the renovation work has become almost unrecognisable.

Before: dark, labyrinthine rooms

To establish a new floorplan, the basement-level features such as the office toilet and the bathroom were relocated, and walls were removed to create a bright, spacious living room. Furthermore, any wall and ceiling coverings were removed to restore the original masonry, and this was used as a valuable design element. The laborious task was a skilful move that allowed for a new and open interior. 

After: open and bright living-dining area

In this image we finally get to see the new space in all its splendour and cheery brightness. After the renovations, the room now embraces a light and bright glazed wall to the courtyard, which helps both the internal and external living spaces. During the planning and reconstruction of the dwelling, the areas lacked a clear organisational structure. However, after the works the new cohesive living space was created without needing to change the square metreage, or the basic floorplan. The new spacious living, dining, and kitchen areas now feature clean lines and forms, while looking fabulous with the exposed masonry and curved ceiling structure.

After: spacious kitchen

The open arch, which serves as a passageway between the living area and kitchen, stands out for its open and exposed brickwork. This feature is an extremely stylish design that beautifully fits into the overall appearance of the residence. The vaulted ceilings remain highly recognisable, functioning as a special feature within the updated premises. 

The modern kitchen is open, bright, and friendly—hard to imagine that this was once a dividing wall! Small and thoughtful details are included, such as the back kitchen wall that is painted with blackboard paint. This serves as a space for notes or sweet words, and adds value to the overall space. Especially beautiful are the laid timber floorboards, which adds to the cosy radiant atmosphere. 

After: cosy sitting area

Quality features run throughout the entire living area, and this is seen in the comfortable seating of the living area. To add a striking feature, clean modern furnishings have been implemented, with a statement Barcelona chair designed by Mies van der Rohe. In combination with the natural materials used, a tree stump coffee table further creates an authentic organic ambience.

After: modern workplace

The workplace is a tastefully designed space. To create this area, a simple wooden board beneath the window was installed, thereby providing sufficient illumination for working, and the best possible lighting conditions. The entire house is set in a natural environment, which boasts white walls, and a strong use of natural materials.

Before: dreary exterior

Small openings and a lack of style once adorned the courtyard area. This space seemed not only dark, but appeared very uninviting. After the renovation, the decades-old climbing plants that had marked the appearance significantly were partially removed to make room for generous new glazing, an intervention that more than paid off in the end.

After: welcoming courtyard

The patio that once served purely as an exterior passageway now serves as a private courtyard, surrounded by two living rooms that feature generous window openings. Here in this is image, we see the central situation of the apartment and its inviting appearance. The natural and charming design makes for a space that looks perfect for many relaxing and restful hours. 

If you liked that Ideabook and would like to see another, check out: Successfully Converted!

What did you think of this before and after renovation? Let us know, below!
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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