Mixing Old and New in a Berliner Apartment

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Hagar Abiri’s renovation of a Berlin apartment for a young Israeli family takes what others would have viewed as a design problem, and converts it into a centerpiece for the home. Working in an “Alt Bau” (old building), the small apartment faced a layout issue due to a large protruding wall; angularly dividing the space along the Berlin wall path instead of with the grain of the room dimensions. Rather than destroy this wall to make the space more normal, Abiri embraced its obnoxious presence by leaving it in tact and completely exposed. Abiri took this approach to almost all the original elements of the home, including doors, door knobs, etc, and these rough texture add a pleasant contrast to the new additions of the space, which parcel the apartment into areas to work, play, sleep and cook. These spheres of activity overlap and work outside the limits of conventional partitioning, making the apartment feel more open as the program becomes more permeable. Berlin, like many ancient cities, lost a lot of its more beautiful buildings in the horrors of WWII, so it’s commendable to preserve as much of the old city as one can, especially in the shadow of the steel and glass structures that have taken over in the last few decades. But the apartment is not designed for luddites either, as it features a warm modernist style akin to the Tel Aviv environment the family moved from. This warmth comes down to the tiniest details, with many decorative pictures of Tel Aviv brought to the home, and vintage Israeli art inlaid into some of the doors. This combination of old and new elements with foreign seeds gives the family a feeling of the whole history of Berlin and welcomes them to grow a life there. Photographs © Diana Adam

Nathaniel Barlam

Nathaniel

Amid the unrest of earning his Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from RISD, Nathaniel manages to find the time to read, write, hang out with friends, play drums, and listen to music. Nathaniel has learned a lot about architecture firsthand thanks to opportunities to live and work in Rome and Brooklyn during the past year. Coming from a family with strong roots in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Nathaniel has always maintained a strong love for NYC especially, and after his studies finish up in Providence he may move there for a while. He hasn’t decided yet.
You can connect with him via Linkedin or by visiting his Portfolio page.

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