In the leafy central district of Bachletten, Basel, Oppenheim transformed a 100-year-old building into four contemporary homes for single families. Nestled closely between neighbors and set behind a modest front yard, the three stories that form the primary building façade are dressed simply in pale white plaster, bringing the existing articulated forms of the façade into relief.
Expressed in the center of the building are a pair of balconies – one with an intricately detailed wrought iron balustrade, the other in plaster as if formed from the façade itself. Shutters, windows and the front door have been treated as a collection, all finished in a golden natural wood and each individually reinserted into the exterior shell.
Internally, details and finishes have been revealed and retained, from the winding original wooden staircase, complete with railings, to elaborate ceiling stucco and wall paneling. Each of the four apartments has been attended to individually, with the design interventions responding directly to the specific needs of the existing shell and the required occupation.
At the lower levels, new kitchens are rich timber-lined interiors that seem to have been carved out of the existing walls, while the new bathrooms are immersive glowing white interior.
Within the occupied rooftop space, the existing wooden roof beams have been left exposed, and like the whole ceiling shell, painted white. With new skylights drawing in natural light, the result is a bright, open and ambient interior space. Rather than carving out, here the sense of openness is emphasized by treating the new functional kitchen and stairwell elements as crisp white boxes set within the space. Here the old and new are formally more distinct but have been brought together through sympathetic tones.
With careful attention to the rich architectural history of the building, the use of a simple palette and a precise language of additions accentuates the original features. The result is a fresh but timeless interpretation that forms an elevated background to the daily life of its occupants.