Architect: 3six0 Architecture
Location: Providence, Rhode Island
Principals: Kyna Leski and Christopher Bardt, AIA
Associate & Project Architect: Olga Mesa, LEED AP
Team: Aaron Brode, Avi Forman, and Kelly Ennis
General Contractor: Case Construction Company
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: John Horner Photography
An artist and her engineer husband had recently purchased a loft in Providence’s jewelry district. 3six0 Architecture was asked to convert the loft into a live/work area for the two individuals, maintaining distinct spaces to be uniquely designed for each client.
The “double loft” owners challenged 3six0 to acknowledge their long and committed relation, while celebrating their uniqueness and personal penchants. Programmatically, most spaces remain separate and duplicate; a sun room, entry, and utility room are the only spaces planned with equal access.
Before the loft could read coherently, it had to be divided. The trapezoidal geometry of the untreated space, determined by the surrounding urban fabric, had plenty of bumps, angles, and awkwardly located columns to impose any simple division of the space. A long-angled side skewed to the column grid accommodated his affinity for the most difficult and dynamic condition, while the simplicity of the traditional columned area appealed to her receptivities.
She likes illuminated, airy, and serene spaces; he likes raw materials, grilling steaks and working on cars. From those clues, 3six0 developed two architectural characters, “cloud” and “stack.” “Cloud” floats, grows down from the ceiling, has soft rounded corners and appears seamless, immaterial, white, or translucent. “Stack” is very constructed; you can see the parts, the angular adjustments and the material, usually wood or mdf with steel details. The two loft spaces were organized by mingling cloud and stack into walls and storage spaces. Each character is positioned accordingly, stack on his side and cloud on hers, however, one is never in isolation from the other.
Casework and detailing continue the conversation between hers and his (cloud and stack). His casework was literally conceived as stacked volumes slowly spreading and transforming from closed cabinets to open shelves. On her side the casework continues the stack abstractly, modified with glass doors and a more monolithic expression.
Cloud wanders through both spaces and negotiates between the two sides. Her bedroom is a nest, gently embraced in cloud; on his side cloud pushes through stack, tempering the long mdf and steel living room wall.
The architectural spaces of the double lofts are designed to support and represent the independent arrangements of this couple. The opposing elements (cloud and stack) provide a language for the two individual and intertwined lives.