What’s the strangest building you’ve seen converted for residential use? More than the innate novelty of it, converting buildings into houses is so interesting because it demands a great deal of creativity and resourcefulness to build a livable space around its intended use.
In this video, Architect Gemma Wheeler has a very special challenge on her hands. How can she turn an old, disused, and awkwardly-sized chapel into a home?
It’s not as easy as it seems because the challenge has a lot of restrictions.
First, Wheeler wanted to make a three-bedroom home out of an 80-square-meter area. Chapels and churches also have different placements for windows.
In this instance, the windows are large and are positioned higher than in a normal home or office building. The height makes it awkward as a person must tiptoe or step onto a stool just to look out the window.
Wheeler made some propositions to get around that.
First, she suggested cutting the house into two floors. She can lower the ceiling and heighten the floor a bit. But it also comes with a new problem. With this plan, no room on the second floor will have access to any window.
Next, the raised floors also meant that there would be a lot of unused space under the new ground floor of the house.
The last iteration is much more realistic.
She proposes to dig a little bit deeper so a new room can be built below ground level. This will serve as the main entranceway.
In her plans, you’ll walk straight into the living area. Right in front of it is a platform where the “ground floor area” sits.
Both areas are not separated by walls so the lights from the windows can easily spill in. The area is further divided into three. The stairwell sits at the center and is flanked by the dining area and the kitchen. These common spaces receive a lot of natural light and we imagine it to be wonderful any time of day.
On the second floor, you’ll see two bedrooms.
The bedrooms are as big as the area allows. They are separated by a closet system and personal storage areas.
The bathroom sits right across the bedrooms. The lack of windows in the area posed a real challenge. Wheeler got around the issue by extending the ceiling of the bathroom way up into the rafters and changing the roof into a skylight so natural light could pour in.
Lastly, the topmost floor has another bedroom and a small toilet area. Instead of windows on the sides, the room has skylight windows just like the second-floor bathroom. Its closet space is located right by the door to make the bed area much more space efficient.
All in all, the design works and is just creatively efficient yet elegant.
“The leap from a one-level home to ultimately creating 3 levels is architecturally brilliant. True genius here.” Said one commenter.
“How rare to see an architect with such imagination and practical skills. Utter pleasure. Thank you.” Said another.
What do you think about her design?
Watch how this architect envisioned a three-level home from an abandoned chapel.
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