DUTCH BUREAU FRAAI CREATES INDUSTRIAL LOFT
IN HISTORIC MONASTERY
Since 1896 there has been a beautiful monumental building in the heart of the Dutch flower district:
the Saint Lucia Monastery. Many girls found their way into society through the Monastery in those years.
They were especially trained by the Sisters of Divine Providence for service functions in care
and household. Although the monastery flourished under the leadership of the Franciscan ones,
this era finally came to an end in 2007. But luckily new initiators came along….
Over the years, the complex expandeded with a parsonage, a church and a school and moreover surrounded by a landscaped monastery garden with winding paths, a vegetable garden, a “linden lane”, a small pond and a canal. All buildings were built in neo-gothic style and characterized by a multitude of architectural, artisanal and refined details. But due to a lack of occupancy, the complex rapidly deteriorated.
Juan Christoffels, who lived near the monestry, was disturbed by this and presented an ambitious building plan to the Sisters, who granted him an exclusive option on purchase. Christoffels hired an engineering firm and eventually created a design for a new layout of the monastery, which resulted in the transfer of 7 townhouses and 11 apartments in 2015. One of these mansions was bought by a couple who settled in bustling Amsterdam years ago. VITA DI LUSSO visited them and heard how they exchanged their country-style townhouse in the city centre for a city-style super loft in a country setting.
A perfect match
An upstairs apartment in the middle of the center of Amsterdam is of course perfectly fine during and just after your student days, but we see most in later life, and certainly when children come, seek the peace and space in nearby locations. This was also the case with the residents of this special building. “I just didn’t see myself for much longer with a child, a buggy and groceries on the narrow stairs of our home. As a child I grew up close to the beach and suddenly I longed for that atmosphere and that spatial feeling.
In the meantime we were able to afford a bigger house, so in 2015 we started looking for special properties in the area of Haarlem. We both aspired to an old, rare home and friends of ours told us about this project. Although we were well able to see the potential of this property through the large open spaces, we also knew that we could not realize our wishes and ideas without the help of a good architect. We already knew Daniel Aw from Bureau Fraai and adjudged him this challenging and appropriate project. It turned out to be the perfect match on all sides.”
Custom made solutions
The house was delivered hull and in this case it meant that only floors, ceilings and partitioning walls were present. Pieces of tape had just indicated where the walls of the new design should be and the seventeen-meter high building had no stairs. While the routing of the house was actually dependent on the stairs. Designing and determining the position of this crucial element was therefore essential and would form a wonderful starting point for the entire interior design.
The residents wanted to create an industrial style with a mix of warm, cozy and rough, tough elements. Daniel therefore proposed a stucco 3D stair element with oak steps and strip steel balustrades with a generous steel and glass casing on the ground floor, in which the wine stock could also be placed. Another nice component, which is integrated in the stair element, is the platform for the piano. “My husband likes to play the piano and Daniel literally wanted to give him a stage in this way. The enormous height of all floors meant that we had to give the stairs a landing on every floor. This platform on the ground floor has therefore been given a double, very valuable function.”
On the ground floor there is a spacious hall that gives access to the loft-like living room with a lounge area and an open kitchen with dining. New white stucco is interspersed on the walls, which is combined with the bare historic brick walls. It gives the whole space an attractive effect. The huge vintage hanging lamps and the old wooden top of the dining table also contribute to this. Light oak planks for the dry rooms are used on the floors, which are alternated with concrete for the wet rooms.
The first floor is the kids domain. With no fewer than three large bedrooms with huge high windows and a private bathroom, it is wonderful to relax here. A spectacular master suite has been realized on the attic floor. In this huge space, with a ridge height of almost seven meters, you will find a stage where the sleeping area is located and combined with a real jacuzzi. In addition, the stage flows into a mezzanine volume including a walk-in closet, a bathroom and toilet. The office is on top of the mezzanine.
Daniel: “We were able to realize the office room on the mezzanine by applying a different suspension of the beams. That required some persuasiveness towards the contractor and constructor, but the result is therefore optimal.”
Residents: “Bureau Fraai has been of enormous value to us. Next to the well-considered design concept, the true effect lies within the details. Our home would have looked much less attractive if Daniel had not been on top of everything all the time. Craftsmanship combined with an eye for detail in both the design and implementation phases is crucial. We would like to say to anyone who is going to build or renovate a home: we know what you are missing if you do not involve a professional in the realization of your dream house!” I can only add in style: “Amen.”