Urban Renewals: Doehler

The Gut Renovation of a Brooklyn Loft Located in a Former Die Casting Factory

When the owners of this New York apartment first approached Architect and founder of SABO Alex Delaunay about a renovation project, they hadn’t realized the great, unexploited potential that it held.
And so the scope of work extended, resulting in a dramatically transformed space where everything was gutted; the only original partition left was of a second bedroom. The new connections between rooms establish a continuum, which manages to achieve privacy while bringing natural light to every single space.

The project uses 3 colours and 9 shades, combined in bold graphic patterns, which are vividly contrasted in the bathroom. ‘The space of the bathroom is strongly connected with the common rooms,’ Alex explained. ‘But once inside you feel immersed in a different place.’
We picked Alex’s brains a little, trying to understand the complex mind of an architect!


The Plus: Is architecture and design something you’ve always wanted to go into?
Alex Delaunay:
I’ve only recently started to acknowledge the effect of my dad spending all his weekends for 20 years renovating an old barn outside of Paris. When he was finally done he started building another house from scratch right next to it. I always though I was only sensitive to the design side of architecture but the emotional and physical connection to the act of building is fascinating.

TP: You’ve worked in several cities around the world. How have they influenced your design?
I really don’t know at this point. I live in NY but follow very closely what is happening in Paris where I grew up, so I feel I sort of live in between. Those distinctions get very blurry sometimes so it’s hard to be conscious of which influenced what.

TP: But a lot of your recent projects and installations have been in Brooklyn/ NY; how do you feel the city influences you design style?
Brooklyn now has become synonymous with authenticity and nostalgia for a vanished industrial culture. The Doehler building was built in 1913 for a die casting company. Its concrete structure was designed to support extremely heavy casting machinery and tons of various metal ingots. That unusual concrete structure is a true artefact and we aimed at celebrating it. A common Brooklyn attitude would lead to a respectful restoration project, but I wanted to put that industrial roughness out in dialogue with a more contemporary presence.

TP: What one place do you think everyone should visit, to witness truly amazing architecture?
Rather than one amazing place to visit, I’m more interested in the many amazing ways there are to look at architecture. It’s really up to you to make a space something stimulating to observe, depending on the perspectives you choose to look at it. As long as you are not passively contemplating but actively trying to look for clues and meanings, it doesn’t necessarily take an exotic trip.

View the work-in-process images and blueprints in the slideshow below: