Dezeen Magazine

Greetings from Rome apartment in Vilnius by 2XJ

Arched travertine wall carves up Greetings From Rome apartment by 2XJ

A structural stone wall separates the social and private spaces within this two-storey family apartment in the old town of Vilnius, Lithuania, designed by local studio 2XJ.

Located in the city's Užupis neighbourhood, the 140-square-metre apartment occupies the second and third-floor attic space of a three-storey apartment building.

Ground floor of Vilnius apartment by 2XJ with travertine wall and wood and steel staircase
2XJ designed the apartment around the structural stone wall at its centre

The apartment, which belongs to a young family who split their time between Vilnius and Vienna, previously had a "complex" layout dominated by a structural stone wall that ran the length of the apartment.

Punctuated by three arches on the ground floor, this wall reminded the architects of the Colosseum in Rome.

"It became a bit of a humorous point," 2XJ architects told Dezeen. "This complicated and immovable wall became known as the Colosseum."

Arched travertine wall in Greetings from Rome apartment
The studio chose a neutral palette of white, natural wood and travertine

As it was one of the apartment's main structural walls it could not be removed so the studio decided to turn it into a central feature by cladding it in slabs of Italian travertine "just like the real Colosseum".

This is also what led the architects to give the project its tongue-in-cheek name: Greetings From Rome.

Travertine wall and steel staircase banister in Vilnius apartment by 2XJ
2XJ clad the central wall in slabs of Italian travertine

"Our main goal was to enhance the feeling of the old town in the interior by modern means, and the arch motif and the stone wall served this purpose perfectly – it became the axis of the project," said 2XJ.

"We decided to highlight this wall and create the home around it, to separate the house into active and restful spaces. We knew that if we solved the wall issue properly, the project would be a success."

Bathroom with arched doorway in Greetings from Rome flat
It divides the public and private spaces on the lower level

On a practical level, the wall separates the social and private spaces on the lower floor by dividing the plan into two zones – a main living area with an open plan kitchen, living and dining area on one side and two children's bedrooms and bathrooms on the other.

From the main living space, the owners can access a small home office that can be closed off with sliding doors, as well as a large terrace with a view of Vilnius's baroque churches.

Built-in storage is incorporated into a hallway that runs between the children's bedrooms and the stone wall.

White steel staircase in Vilnius apartment by 2XJ
The second-floor landing area houses a small library

The apartment's upper level houses the primary bedroom, a small bathroom and a landing area that functions as a library for the owners' large collection of books.

To complement the wall, the architects chose a neutral palette of white, natural wood and travertine throughout the apartment.

Bedroom with built-in lighting, storage and travertine wall in Greetings from Rome apartment
Travertine accents also feature in the bedrooms

The staircase that links the two floors is divided into two parts, with a "monumental" wood section at the base and the rest made from white-coloured steel.

"The monumental part has a connection with other objects, such as the dining table and console," explained the studio.

"The upper part was designed to create a feeling of lightness and to save space. All of these elements create a link with the main stone wall."

Arched doorways and wood and steel staircase in Vilnius apartment
The staircase is divided into a wood and a white steel section

The arch motif is repeated in smaller details throughout the apartment such as the custom door handles, dining table and other curved furniture.

Elsewhere in Vilnius, a number of studios have used similar techniques to modernise old, 19th-century apartments. ŠA Atelier inserted bright white and natural wood partitions to divide the space in one family home, while in another interior designer Kristina Lastauskaitė-Pundė turned the existing arched doorways into a central feature.

Photography is by Darius Petrulaitis.

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