A faceted golden nodule protrudes from one side of this art studio in Warsaw, providing a secluded meditation space for Polish sculptor Pawel Althamer (+ slideshow).
This sculptural room is described by the architects as an interpretation of one of Althamer's performance-based artworks, where participants are dressed in golden spacesuits.
Althamer – who is known for his conceptual sculptures, performances, installations and video work – had outgrown the studio he shares with his father and brother.
He asked the architects to design the 400-square-metre extension to accommodate his growing volume of projects.
The L-shaped extension is made from two mono-pitched structures, which connect to the existing studio to frame a courtyard in the centre of the site.
"The golden capsule completes a kind of spatial loop of the complex – it serves as a place of seclusion and meditation for the artist – being at the same time the most highlighted volume and defining the most public area," said the architects.
Inside, the architects created a gradation of privacy – placing common-use areas at ground level, and private spaces for contemplation closest to the ceiling and out of sight.
"The initial idea of the client was to create a place, where the two generations of the family can work and spend time together, though maintaining the independency of everyones own personality and work-style," said the architects.
A large workshop and store in the base of the building adjoin the courtyard, and can be used collectively by the artists and their assistants, as well as to host visitors.
A small mezzanine is set above this open-plan space, beneath the tallest part of the sloping metal ceiling. It provides an office and meeting room, and features a large sliding window overlooking the laneway that leads to the site.
A narrow doorway in the wall of the mezzanine level leads into the final and most private room. This tiny darkened space within the gold crystalline form can be used as a retreat from the hubbub of the studio below.
London-based Featherstone Young created a similar structure for a complex of artists' studios and apartments in Stoke Newington. Here, a black box looms over the rusty steel facade of the complex, which occupies the former site of a board-game factory.
The southern facade of Althamer's studio is made from translucent polycarbonate panels, while its other walls are white-painted masonry.
This polycarbonate cladding helps to diffuse sunlight to create an "intense, shadowless" space within. The same material was also recently used for a photography studio in Japan.
Photography is by Karolina Tunajek, unless stated otherwise.
Architects: Piotr Brzoza Architekten, Projekt Praga
Team: Piotr Brzoza, Marcin Garbacki, Karolina Tunajek, Łukasz Woleński, Gosia Kocima, Katarzyna Pyka, Maciek Kossowski
Client: Paweł Althamer
Structural engineering: KiS Projekt
Civil engineering: Studio Instalacji
Sanitary: Łukasz Drobiński