Light Box Loft

We were commissioned to transform a dark, enclosed commercial loft into a home for a family. In order to blend architecture and light in a cohesive way, we developed a modular partition system of ‘light boxes’ that consists of a 12” deep structural plywood frame with translucent panels mounted to both faces of the frame. A continuous lighting rail, threaded through the top of the frames, provides pin spot lighting between the translucent panels. The frame is distinguished by a pattern of CNC-milled apertures that allow the maximum amount of light to travel laterally through the upright struts. Given the client’s tight budget constraints, we used CNC-milling and laser cutting fabrication to minimize waste of materials and maintain accuracy for the kit-of-parts system.

Although the rear and mid-sections of the loft were dark and cavernous, we addressed this challenge by layering spaces with incandescent light and introducing illuminated architectural elements to reinforce a visual flow of light throughout the loft. The translucent ‘light boxes’ cast light into the darker parts of the loft while also providing privacy between adjoining rooms. Their forms also create a more expansive experience of space by suggesting depth within and beyond their translucent surfaces. Large transparent ‘vitrines’ are suspended within the ‘light boxes’; they provide storage and display areas while also creating dynamic moments that reveal the interior cavity of the ‘light boxes.’

The living room and library are the largest public zones in the apartment. We juxtaposed them diagonally in plan so that one would sense each area as a separate domain within the larger expanse of the loft. The diagonal organization allowed for more dynamic views through multiple layers of space.

The programme also includes three bedrooms and a home office that are placed along the perimeter of the apartment to allow for the maximum flow of public space and light around an existing row of iconic columns. Within each of the private bedrooms, the ‘light boxes’ bathe the interiors with light. This is also true of the bathrooms, which are textured with natural limestone and marble. A series of wood steps leads up to the master bathroom, which was designed as an oasis for a contemplative spa experience.

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