One of the standard pitfalls of the modern, minimalist loft: it can feel cold and sterile. Many architects–John Pawson chief among them–have gotten around the problem by warming up the spaces with custom wood furniture. For a recent project in Prague, the young firm A1 Architects did just that–and then some, smoothing out sharply edged walls into smooth curves and creating a homey atmosphere without erecting a bunch of walls to break up the 2,400-square-foot space.
“The space is quite big and if it would be separated into many small rooms, one could feel lost there,” A1’s David Maštálka tells Co.Design. But rather than keep it as one big, open loft, the main living spaces flow into each other through rounded bends. In order to maintain the transparency between the lower and upper floors, they fashioned a stair rail out of stainless-steel mesh–an unorthodox choice of an industrial material that looks downright elegant against the oak staircase. “It was not reasonable to use glass, which would be really difficult and expensive to curve and would not actually suit the whole design atmosphere,” says Maštálka. “We searched for material that would be strong and safe enough but even ‘soft’ to make the rounded banister.”
The warmth of wooden built-ins, finished in local walnut veneer, counterbalances the more austere touches like the steel-mesh fencing and concrete walls. All in all, it’s a fab update of the minimalist loft, complete with nods to the industrial-style lofts of the ’80s and today’s newfound interest in craft and natural materials. And it’s a look that will only get better over time, as the shelves fill with books and scuff marks appear on the oak stairs.