28 Powell Street
Live-Work studio, Vancouver, British Columbia
This extremely small and very modest artists live / work studio is situated right at the intersection of Gassy Jack Square in the heart of Gastown. The studio program was to provide complete live-in facilities in a 600 sq. ft. essentially open plan space, created from a base building shell, so versatile that during the day it would transform into a working art studio. The studio had to maximize incoming natural light from the one single window wall stretching the length of the studio, and get this light deep into the space. It also had to be designed so work materials would disappear into storage elements. For health reasons the studio had to be a dust free environment. The owner also wanted to showcase other artists through elements of the studio fit out. All this on an extremely modest $40,000.00 fit-out budget.
The overall aesthetic took a minimalist approach. The design perspective of the studio was to use the built in furniture as the interior design through a number of strategies. A sense of detail would be evoked through hand made hardware and components, surfaces would be specifically treated in each area of the space to move light around the studio and create a sense of environmental warmth and openness. Localized dropped sculptural drywall ceilings in the main studio space created the sense of a changing volume while hiding low voltage down lighting, ducts and sprinklers. This ceiling was finished with aluminum leaf to reflect light.
Built in furniture was made from Maple Apple Plywood with flush joints and surfaces, and hidden hinges creating large warm planes and surfaces. This accentuated the artist made hardware which was fabricated from salt water (ocean) aged steel sections, creating completely unique and one off elements. The existing base building concrete floors were acid etched in a deep coca cola colour. Glass and sandblasted steel cabinet fronts opened library units to create the perception of greater openness.
In the main entry hall, 2 feet were taken from the hallway width to create a reflective storage wall. A laminated polished aluminum wall was created. The artist / owner painted a steel brushed landscape in the wall surface giving this specular device character and depth. This moved exterior light around in the studio and down the entry hall to the bathroom. The otherwise tiny apartment sized bathroom was perceptually enlarged by creating transparent and suspended sculpture of the vanity, back lit mirror and cabinet and accessories. A sandblasted glass and steel frame shoji wall with rolling track door brought light in from the hallway creating the sense of a larger room space. Tile floors in the bathroom were created by a tile artist with motif of the universe, the ordinary ceiling was finished with gold leaf to reflect light.