Loft J

Design: steininger.designers, Fotos: Catherine Roider                                                                                            



Interplay of contrasts

Industrial building meets living space. New life is being breathed into a historic architectural complex in Cham near Lucerne in Switzerland. The town centre development area offers attractive potential thanks to its historic factory charm. On commission from a young couple, STEININGER transformed what had been a shell into a timelessly elegant residential loft resplendent with harmonious contrasts.

A paper mill had operated on the site in Cham, Switzerland, for almost 360 years. Following its closure, a new concept was devised for use of the site as a residential and work quarter, with most of the legacy buildings being retained as living history. And not only that: The 160 metre long structures are being renovated and upgraded in several construction phases, reflecting the site’s historical importance as a major feature of the Papieri neighbourhood.

A fresh conception

A blank, white sheet of paper also faced the STEININGER team as they began planning a loft conversion in one of the historic listed buildings. A couple had purchased the approximately 110 square metre third-floor apartment, and wanted a look for their new home that echoed the industrial style of the building. STEININGER produced a design featuring extensive conversion of the existing layout. An imposing five metres high, the apartment’s rooms are characterised by large galvanised industrial windows with a silvery finish, which as listed features could not be changed, as well as by a prominent concrete ceiling in the form of a shed roof which, at the client’s request, was cleaned but not cosmetically altered in look. 

More space

The initial contact with STEININGER stemmed from the client's desire to purchase a FOLD kitchen for the new apartment. However, the idea quickly emerged to have STEININGER plan the complete interior, which meant the designers were able to get involved in the project at a very early stage. In the living area, for example, a wall was removed for a separate room that was not needed, turning the room into a large L shape. The block containing the guest toilet and utility room was rotated and positioned in the space as a detached cube, which allowed the striking visual impact of the concrete ceiling, with its impressive beams, to be retained. Contrasting the light grey, a floor of long dark oak planking from Schotten & Hansen runs throughout the floor space, uniting all the different zones. The floor has a distinct texture which gives a sense of depth.

Perfect transitions

The centrepiece of the apartment is the monolithic PURE kitchen by Steininger, a free-standing concrete island with a hob and water tap, combined with an integrated solid wood table made of dark Tobac oak, which can be used as a breakfast area or home office. This materiality elegantly makes the vertical transition from the floor upwards. Along the back wall, the kitchen is complemented by STEININGER’s WALL cupboard unit which, finished in a special dark oak stain veneer, harmonises with the wooden floor and the built-on table. This ideally embodies the basic concept behind WALL, namely to conceal everything behind a homogeneous front. The cupboard unit, which conceals a second sink with worktop and all appliances, as well as plenty of storage space, is primarily opened by elegant, space-saving sliding pocket doors. It also features an integrated climate-controlled wine cabinet, as well as a cloaks cupboard that is rotated 90 degrees to face the entrance area. The WALL installation was deliberately kept below full room height. The wall above up to the concrete ceiling is painted in Farrow & Ball anthracite.

Pure quality of life

Opposite the kitchen is the living area, where the Neo Wall sofa and Greene armchair from Living Divani are grouped around a circular, iridescent rug made of bamboo fibres from Casalis. The client's idea of a brick finish on the walls was discarded in order to enhance the coherence and sense of calm. They now blend into the high-ceilinged rooms in a neutral off-white colour that gives greater visual emphasis to the furnishings and art. The alcove created by removing the wall houses the dining area, which visually extends the room thanks to the Parsol mirror cladding its rear wall. A special feature of the mirror, which is divided by joints, is a vertical light strip that provides a distinctive styling accent. The array of Raimond pendant lights from Moooi mounted above the Brasilia dining table from Living Divani are undoubtedly eye-catching.

Wood and marble

From the private area with walk-in cloakroom and bedroom, fitted out by STEININGER with wardrobe units and doors made in its own workshops, the bathroom can be accessed via two Sail sliding elements from Rimadesio. Marble is the defining element here, used as Infinito wall panelling in Gris Du Marais and in a washbasin made from a block of natural stone, all made by Salvatori. The basin, complemented by black fittings from Gessi, is encased in ribbed wood panelling, which in turn – like the vertically structured wall panelling – echoes the design of the louvre sliding doors.

Finishing touch

To underscore the coherence of the materials, colours and shapes, a sophisticated lighting concept was implemented that could only be installed on plaster, and so demanded highly aesthetic solutions. While two rows of lights comprising downlights and spots from Tyrolean lighting manufacturer Ledworks hang above the kitchen, Davide Groppi's Infinito system, a steel band with an LED strip stretched between two consoles, was chosen for the living area. The exposed concrete beams are also highlighted by being lit both from above and below.