The neighbourhood of Vilnius, in Raugyklos, Lithuania, a dilapidated local warehouse has been transformed into a beautiful building of studio apartments by DO Architects as part of a revival project.
Besides simply updating the local landscape and making better use of space, this particular project was designed to prove how low-value architecture might be upgrade into inspiring new spaces with a bit of forward thinking and conceptualization. Now, buildings like the one in Vilnius revitalize several local streets where before their abandoned frames made them look run down.
This piece is particularly exemplary of this because instead of choosing to demolish the warehouse and simply start again with a new structure where it once stood, this architectural team opted to use strong qualities of the existing building to their benefit. For example, good outer space around the warehouse has been turned into space for private entrances and public terraces for ground floor apartments that enhance co-living for those units.
On the second floor, draw is created by the sprawling loft-style apartment rather than access to outdoor terraces. These units are still afforded the appeal of outdoor space, however, in the form of direct access to a share rooftop terrace, which is gorgeous and enjoyable to experience despite it not belonging to one’s unit alone like the others.
Certain aspects of the warehouse that withstood the test of time and didn’t show too much wear and tear can be seen throughout t the building, letting its new layout feel authentic to the project’s goals. For example, exposed concrete columns and ceilings remain and are now an important part of the slightly industrial chic aesthetic throughout the building. New walls have also been built, and their shining smoothness creates an appealing contrast with the rough texture of the original concrete ones.
In the common spaces outside the units, views of a lovely, lushly green inner courtyard are afforded through continuous glazed walls, where sunlight floods in freely and lights the inner spaces naturally. The idea here was to allow family life to include a sense of flowing seasons in their daily routine, as though their regular tasks are one with their environment.
Upon entering each apartment, dwellers and visitors are welcomed by more large windows in each unit, continuing that sense of cohesive environment. Common living spaces for each unit sit not far off, designed to act as the heart of each apartment thanks to how they’re situated. Aside from this space, other spaces that, in a large house, might be distinct rooms are fit together cozily with a free flow of space.
This is how the upper apartments maintain their loft influence. In these units, you’ll find the kitchen, dining area, and more social seating to be a continuous space that allows free movement and presents differences in texture to delineate between “room” functions, rather than actual divisions breaking the apartment into stifling compartments.
Still on the upper floors, each unit contains its own tiny patio, which is where access to the larger rooftop terrace is found. This makes the common space on the building’s top feel like an extension of each person’s private home and enhances the relationship between interior and exterior spaces.
In terms of materiality, a great contrast exists between the warehouse’s facade and the warmth found inside each unit, which was precisely the intention of the designers. On the outside, dwellers are confronted with authentic industrial materials, primarily stainless steel, glass, and exposed concrete. Inside, however, ongoing concrete is balanced by wooden details and even a fully wooden wall in each unit, which grounds the space.
In each unit, designers opted to include precious art pieces, particularly ones from local artists. These are placed sporadically and strategically but are also essential to the design of each apartment and the dwellers’ experiences of those spaces. Designers wished for people to feel like they have constant access to art that is worth their appreciation.
At one end of each apartment, the first real delineation is found in the form of a white painted brick wall. This helps the apartment continue to feel open and bright but still keeps the more intimate spaces, the bathroom and the bedrooms, private. The bathroom is accessed through semi-transparent glass doors, keeping it well lit, while the bedrooms are afforded all possible privacy, unlike the rest of the spaces. They are purposely modestly sized to let dwellers focus wholly on their main function: resting.
Photos by Laimonas Ciūnys