Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Loft Apartments: Adaptive Reuse Meets Industrial Sophistication

As an idea, the repurposing old buildings isn't new. People have reused stable old buildings for various purposes, often refurbishing their interiors to keep them up to modern standards of habitability. Adaptive reuse has grown in popularity in recent years, fuelled both by the demands to preserve a city's notable architectural heritage and a desire to redevelop and revitalize urban areas. And nowhere is this more apparent than what could be the most famous form of adaptive reuse: the loft apartment.

Lofts are hitherto former industrial or commercial spaces repurposed as residential areas, usually consisting of a large open space. These are often called “hard lofts” to distinguish them from newer industrial-themed residential apartments built to resemble lofts.

Abandoned industrial buildings were once the abode of impoverished artists post-World War II, and then turned (initially illegal) to makeshift homes and studios for bohemian communities. As the appeal of the artist community surged among wealthier folk, so did the eclectic style that characterized the lofts, though this came at a less-than-pleasant price, literally speaking, for the artists who already lived there. Today, lofts are a popular choice for the urban professional, especially those in need of space for work purposes.

The roots of modern industrial style owed their existence to apartments reused from industrial buildings, with key elements such as exposed ducts, bare brick and unfinished concrete walls, the extensive use of metal and aged wood, and repurposed structures used as furniture. Even today, loft-styled apartments still use these industrial design cues as part of their overall aesthetic.

Scott Jay Abraham here. Follow me on Twitter for more updates on the aesthetics of industrial design.