Tiny + Green + Heritage = Weekend at Bernie's

Photos via Apartment Therapy,

If staid old Canadian Architect can title their article on Bernard Flaman's apartment "Weekend at Bernies", so can TreeHugger. It is in an old heritage-designated building in Regina, Saskatchewan, where Flaman is Conservation Architect with Public Works and Government Services.

It's tiny at 450 square feet, and Leslie Jen writes in Canadian Architect that it was designed in a "rigorous and meticulous process...which richly illustrates the link between heritage conservation and sustainable design. In Flaman's heroic efforts to return the apartment to its former modest glory, his reuse of as much original and salvaged material not only restores and embodies the original intended character of the suite, but dramatically reduces the amount of new material consumed."

In 1914, Bachelor pads didn't have kitchens, since men didn't cook for themselves. Flaman squeezed one in, but otherwise tried to restore the place to its former glory. Most architects would, as Jen puts it, "update the space through a grand, modernizing clean sweep, eradicating interior walls and opening up the plan to increase light and flow--which is exactly what Flaman initially intended to do." Living with such tiny rooms goes against the prevailing grain. But it appears to work.

The original double-hung windows were repaired and stripped, their function having been compromised over decades from the cumulative effect of numerous sloppy paint jobs. Any doors that were salvageable were repaired and restored; those that were not were replaced with brand new wood-and-glass doors, which provide the added benefit of allowing more light to penetrate throughout the rooms of the apartment.

Original hardwood floors and plaster walls were also restored, and layers of old paint were laboriously scraped away from wood mouldings. The intention was to take them back to a clear finish to let the beauty of the natural wood shine through, but previous damage meant that a new, fresh paint job was the only viable option in the end.

Click to enlarge

Why is there furniture hanging from the walls in the bedroom? Bernard submitted the apartment to Apartment Therapy's Smallest and Coolest Apartment contest and wrote:

I had a collection of furniture with several Canadian Modernist pieces from the 1950's and 70's along with a few nice Herman Miller items, that I did not want to give up. The generous ceiling heights allowed me to suspend some of the chairs and placed the Eames plywood chair in a niche on top of the kitchen cupboards - the strategy treats them as sculptures and lends an and edgy, surrealistic note to the space.

Interesting idea. More in Canadian Architect

Tags: Canada


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