It’s never too early to hire an architect to renovate your property. The owners of a maisonette apartment in an old apartment building on Prague’s Letná are well aware of this. They first approached an architect and only then bought an apartment, which they renovated with her help to their full satisfaction.
“We first clarified with the clients what they expect from their dream future apartment and what their demands and requirements are for it. Subsequently, we subordinated the selection of the apartment to this,” says architect Hana Novotná from the architectural studio 2MAD.
The U-shaped kitchen corner blends in with the walls thanks to the white color of the furniture and the cladding.
And he continues: “Before they approached me, they themselves first completed two tours of other apartments. However, due to their specific requirements, which included, for example, the location of the sauna, a suitable property had to be chosen with regard to the technical possibilities so that everything could work without problems. That’s why they finally decided on professional help.”
The maisonette apartment originally had an area of 140 m2 and a terrace with an area of 8 m2. He was the first one 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, so 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.
Originally a separate kitchen in the form of a kitchenette was moved to a spacious central room, where, together with the dining area and the living room, a meeting place for the whole family was created. On the upper floor, in which there is a so-called married studio, the adjustment of the layout was more difficult due to the search for an optimal solution for the “node” 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 complemented by 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 through a small window,” explains architect Hana Novotná, the author of the design of the entire reconstruction.
Because the terrace is oriented to the west, it provides a view of the setting sun in the early evening.
Complications as a challenge
The sauna with the terrace are 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 ensured forced ventilation.
The terrace became the biggest structural and legislative problem of the entire reconstruction. As the architect Novotná describes: “In order to connect the terrace with the interior as best as possible, we proposed intervention in the roof of the attic and created large-scale corner glazing of the bedroom. However, because the apartment building is in a conservation area, we had to consult with the conservation authorities for this proposal to go through the approval process. A complication was also the fact that the upper floor of the maisonette apartment is also part of the land, the rafter structure of which cannot be moved in any way.”
The terrace directly invites you to relax.
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 glazed surfaces will be transported to the sixth floor above ground without the use of an elevator, which was too small for these purposes,” says Hana Novotná.
And he continues: “The new glazing of the terrace, which was produced for this realization by the Janošík company, was therefore carried up the stairs by hand. The dimensions of some glasses were also adjusted to make it realistic to get them up and to make them easier to handle.”
A number of complications also occurred in the next stages of the reconstruction. Compared to the original ideas, a completely new composition of the floor on the lower floor had to be made, the roof newly insulated and the machine room of the elevator shaft soundproofed, this was not taken into account during the planning. These deficiencies only appeared during the reconstruction itself.
The installation of a designer fireplace in the interior was a wish that the owners were unfortunately unable to fulfill in the end. This would require a high chimney reaching above the roof level, which was very difficult to implement from a technical point of view. In the end, it was abandoned by mutual agreement.
The sauna was a big wish of the owners.
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. We were in complete agreement with the client regarding the interior furnishings, 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 design details, for example the Minimal door and window handles from the Czech manufacturer M&T, which the architect chose for the project in titanium black matt.
“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 attracted by the fact that the same handle design can be used both on the door leaves and on the sliding HS portal, which is definitely not the norm for hardware manufacturers,” explains architect Novotná.
A large mirror optically enlarges the bathroom in a black and white combination.
“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 black-and-white combination is visually softened and cozy by wooden elements in oak design, for example the floor, stairs with oak treads or solid oak furniture made to measure 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 mezzanine part of the apartment with the reconstruction of the adjacent terrace. In retrospect, we can confirm that our honest preparation certainly paid off, including early communication with the building authority and historic preservation authorities,” say the apartment owners.
There is a direct exit to the terrace from the bedroom.
And when asked if they would change anything 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 opportunity to change something in retrospect, then perhaps only the large window in the slanted part of the living room facing the street, which has remained original here, and that is to improve thermal insulation.”
The architect Hana Novotná concludes by adding: “I think that the fact that we are still in contact and are currently implementing the reconstruction of a 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
Disposition: 4 + kk
Subcontractors: Construction: Ianuss; terrace glazing: Janošík; floor: wooden, supplied by Ianuss; doors: Sapeli; door and window fittings: M&T, Minimal collection; furniture: custom, Stylishrooms; kitchen unit: Gorenje; lamps: Nordic light
The central space can do with a minimum of furniture.
About the author
Ing. architect Hana Novotná, architectural studio 2MAD
Architects and designers from the 2MAD studio work closely with other experts from various fields to guarantee the quality of the result to investors and facilitate the entire process from the first idea to implementation. He creates architecture for his clients that works not only on paper, but also in real life.
They solve everything down to the smallest detail and tailor the designs to those who will inhabit the resulting spaces. In addition to creative ideas, they also always ensure the entire implementation of the construction, so that they can be sure that the result exactly corresponds to their and their clients’ requirements.