A Finnish sauna, ubiquitous wooden elements and light shades in contrast with black details infused a duplex apartment on the sixth floor of an apartment building in Prague with a true Scandinavian atmosphere.
It’s never too early to hire an architect to renovate your property. The owners of a maisonette apartment in an old apartment building in Prague’s Letná know all about this – they first approached an architect and only then bought an apartment, which they reconstructed to their satisfaction with her help. “We first clarified with the clients what they expect from their dream future apartment and what their demands and requirements are for it. We subsequently subordinated the selection of the apartment to this,” says architect Hana Novotná from the architectural studio 2MAD and continues: “Before the clients approached me, they first completed two inspections of other apartments. However, due to their specific requirements, which included, for example, the location of the sauna, a suitable property had to be selected with regard to technical matters so that everything would work without problems. That’s why they finally decided to turn to professional help.” Maisonette apartment originally measuring 140 m2 and a terrace with an area of 8 m2 was the first they visited together. And at the same time the last one, because it was decided.
Change of dispositions
The apartment was in bad condition and its layout did not work very well. In addition, the terrace, which was an essential condition for choosing and buying an apartment from the clients’ side, had a very cramped impression. After mutual agreement and a year-long planning, extensive building modifications took place. “The clients were open to new possibilities, which is why we were able to propose drastic changes and bold solutions. There is practically nothing original left in the apartment – there was a fundamental modification of the layout on both floors.” describes the architect. Two children’s rooms and a bathroom with a shower were newly created on the lower floor. The originally separate kitchen was moved in the form of a kitchenette to a spacious central room, where, together with the dining area and the living room, they created a place for the whole family to meet.
On the upper floor, where the so-called couple’s studio is located, the adjustment of the layout was more demanding due to the search for an optimal solution for the bathroom, sauna and dressing room. “The new layout of the upper floor included one very fundamental modification, namely the enlargement of the terrace, which thus opened up more into the space. The bedroom itself was supplemented with a dressing room, a bathroom with a separate toilet and a custom-made Finnish sauna heated by an electric stove, which offers a view outside through the large-format glazing of the terrace through a small window. describes Ing. architect Hana Novotná, author of the design of the entire reconstruction. Since the terrace is oriented to the west, it provides a view of the setting sun in the early evening.
Complications as a challenge
It was the sauna with the terrace that were the key elements of the entire reconstruction, which had to be solved especially from a technical point of view. For example, in the sauna, it was necessary to solve the removal of heat and moisture, which was done by forced ventilation. Structurally and legislatively, the biggest nut of the entire reconstruction was the terrace. As the architect Novotná describes: “In order to connect the terrace with the interior as best as possible, we designed an intervention in the attic roof and created large-scale corner glazing of the bedroom. However, since the apartment building is located in a heritage zone, we had to consult with the heritage preservation authorities, with whom it had to go through the approval process. A complication was also the fact that the upper floor of the maisonette apartment was also part of the ground, the rafter structure of which could not be moved in any way.” The space of the terrace was thus almost doubled, but the modification of the roof plane, the creation of a dormer window and large glazing was the biggest challenge during the reconstruction. “The problem arose with the question of how such large glass areas would be transported to the sixth floor above ground level without the use of an elevator, which was too small for these purposes,” says Ing. arch. Hana Novotná and continues: “The new glazing of the terrace, which was manufactured by the Janošík company for this implementation, was therefore finally brought up the stairs by hand. The dimensions of some glasses were adjusted to this, so that it would be realistic to get them to the place and to make them easier to handle.”
A number of complications also occurred in the later stages of the reconstruction. Compared to the original ideas, it was necessary to make a completely new composition of the floor on the lower floor, to insulate the roof anew and to soundproof the machine room of the elevator shaft, which was not taken into account during the planning. These deficiencies only appeared during the reconstruction itself.
The Scandinavian atmosphere is reflected in the apartment not only thanks to the installed sauna, but also from the point of view of tuning the entire interior. According to the clients’ ideas, it carries elements of the style of the Nordic countries, to which they regularly go on vacation. “At the time the apartment was created, this style was not as widespread in the Czech Republic as it is today. Regarding the interior equipment, we were in complete agreement with the client, and the selection of furnishing elements took place without any conflicts.” the architect describes the collaboration. The color palette of tuning the apartment is quite minimal. Large white areas are complemented by black details, such as door and window handles MINIMUM from the Czech manufacturer M&T, which chose the architect for the project in the titanium black matte finish. “When I proposed these handles to the apartment owners, with which I already had experience from earlier projects, they were immediately enthusiastic about them. They were especially won over by the fact that the same handle design can be used both on the door leaves and on the sliding HS portal, which is certainly not the norm for hardware manufacturers.” says Ing. architect Hana Novotná. MINIMAL hardware offers a comprehensive collection that includes elements for doors, windows, HS portals, but also door stops. The individual elements are thus visually harmonized and give the interior a complete look.” adds Roman Ulich, chief designer of M&T, the only Czech manufacturer of designer door and window fittings in the Czech Republic.
The black-and-white combination is visually softened and cozy by wooden elements in oak design, such as the floor, stairs with oak treads, or massive custom-made oak furniture from the workshop of Czech manufacturers Stylishrooms. The puristic color of the apartment was preserved even after it was occupied.
Looking back at the reconstruction
Despite all the difficulties, the apartment was completed to the maximum satisfaction of its owners. “We perceive the completely changed layout of the apartment into a family 4+kk very positively, as well as the construction of a sauna and also solving the problem of excessive slanting of the upper maisonette part of the apartment with the reconstruction of the adjacent terrace,” say the apartment owners, and when asked if they would change something in their apartment, they answer: “Thanks to the always trouble-free communication with the architect and her excellent work, we are really satisfied with our apartment. However, if we were to have the option to change something retrospectively, then perhaps only the large window in the slanted part of the living room facing the street, which has remained original here, from the point of view of improving thermal insulation.” The fact that, in cooperation with the architect, they are now implementing the reconstruction of their cottage in the Krkonoše mountains speaks for the satisfaction of the owners.
Year of implementation: 2016 – 2018
Usable area: 135 m² apartment + 13 m² terrace
- Construction: Ianuss
- Terrace glazing: Janošík
- Floor: wooden, supplied by Ianuss
- Door: Sapeli
- Door and window fittings: M&TMINIMAL collection
- Furniture: custom, Stylishrooms
- Kitchen line: Gorenje
- Luminaires: Nordic light
Architect: Ing. architect Hana Novotná, architectural studio 2MAD, www.2mad.cz
Photo: Ing. Jiří Beran for M&T, www.jberan.com