VATRAA transformed a Bucharest apartment into a unique design based on a series of dichotomies
With offices based in London and Bucharest, interior design and architecture practice VATRAA recently completed the transformation of Apartment PS60, which occupies the entire first floor of a 1990’s apartment block situated in a quiet area of Bucharest. The apartment combines an array of contrasting features such as dark and light, cold and warm, textured and smooth, or unique and banal, in a balanced composition, developed in close relation to the context and tailored to the client’s personality.
Initial design ideas came as a reaction to the constraints and the qualities identified in the old apartment. The pre-existing day and night zone separation occupying opposite sides facing West respectively East left room for a long, dark and narrow link corridor in between, but with a special atmosphere given by the natural light captured at its ends.The first design move was to completely open the kitchen to this corridor, in order to enlarge the circulation space and to invite the natural light towards the core of the apartment. As a result, the kitchen now occupies a special place in the heart of the space, becoming a reflection of the client’s passion for mixing cooking activities with social interaction with their guests.
The choice of materials and finishes brings specificity to the project, by anchoring it into its real, immediate context. The original structure of the apartment block – the concrete structure and the brick external walls – have been completely stripped of the existing plaster to reveal the true construction materials behind.
To highlight the expressivity of the revealed concrete and brick, the rest of the finishes had to be deliberately simple: white walls in minimalist lines create a neutral background for the textured fabric of the building, while the natural wood flooring brings back the desired warmth in the composition.
Crafted by local joiners and designed by VATRAA uniquely for this project, a series of bespoke solid oak furniture pieces complete the design at a detail level. These personalised objects sometimes become ‘la piece de resistance’ when perceived against a minimalist background, while other times bringing tension into the composition when confronted with the strong character of the concrete.
The design of the dining table, bench or coffee table follows very simple lines, which stay in contrast with the organic texture of the solid oak. At a closer look, each piece is detailed with care, testing the technical possibilities of the material, while highlighting its beautiful imperfections.
Due to client’s sensibility to direct light, the artificial lighting is hidden in recessed niches behind the internal finishes. Exceptions make a series of bespoke pendant lamps, designed to bring personality to space through subtle details, materialised in warm and expressive materials like oak and leather.
The design was based on a series of dichotomies such as cold and warm, textured and smooth or banal and unique, which highlight the beauty of expressive materials as concrete, brick, wood or leather. This strategy was used from the big picture to the smallest details, from general finishes to bespoke pieces of joinery and lighting, to offer a continuous experience of discovery. Through a carefully controlled hierarchy in composition, your attention is always focused on a dominant element. With each step, the focus point changes gradually, making space for other objects to enter the stage and tell their own story.
Photography by Laurian Ghinitoiu