An idea which started developing about three years ago is now taking shape. On the rooftop of Bautier two brand-new apartments are being built. During the past months scaffolding has been up and down and construction workers are daily parking in front of Bautier with materials and lifts to access the roof, so we thought it was about time to talk a bit more about what is actually going on up there.
‘The idea for the apartments started developing when I was traveling to other cities on my own. After having stayed in some very nice places I thought it would be great to offer such experiences for people visiting Brussels.’ In her search for travel accommodation, Marina got increasing interest in understanding exactly what it is she likes about a place and what makes it welcoming when staying for a few days, especially when traveling alone. ‘I was attracted by the idea of a place for short stays, not like a full apartment which can easily have the appearance of a home, rather something in between a hotel room and an apartment,’ she says. ‘I like a place to feel good and comfortable when you’ve been out in the city all day, meaning it’s nice if you feel invited to actually spend time there. It should also offer the needed amenities to prepare yourself a cup of tea or eventually cook some dinner, and at the same time, the kitchen shouldn’t take up too much room if you’d rather eat out and not use the kitchen at all. Although I love cooking and the kitchen is where I spend most of my time, I’ve always loved small kitchens.’
Marina started drawing the plans and the design of the apartments in 2021 and received the planning permission early 2022. The existing building is low and sits between two taller buildings so it felt natural to add an extension on top. The total surface area is 200 square metres with one 35 square metre-apartment on the street side and one 45 square metre to the back. Marina designed the whole layout herself, in constant dialogue with her architect. The architects also offered their precious support on the technical aspects and making the final drawings for the planning permission, as well as the follow up of the building site. Details are being drawn as the work carries on, as Marina needs to see the building taking shape to finalise their design; only just recently she decided on the final look of the windows, an essential element of the new floor.
The general design challenge of the rooftop has been how to preserve the quality of the studio and store below, keeping the large ceiling skylights, yet this point actually offered the solution for the floor plan and the following idea of a patio. When visitors arrive on the rooftop floor, they will immediately be met with the view to a small green garden in between the two apartments, creating an experience of a house on the roof. When the building and showroom downstairs were initially renovated ten years ago, Marina worked with the garden architects Bart & Pieter for the back garden and courtyard, an important element of the renovation project. The garden duo will come back to make up the new green rooftop patio and terrace.
The apartments are intended as small settings where you have just what you need. ‘I would like the apartments to offer the feel of a hotel, cosy and practical and with details like high quality sheets and soaps, yet I like it to be independent from the rest of Bautier and that you as a visitor don’t have to pass a front desk,’ says Marina. Visitors can simply enter with a code and are free to move around. It will feel like a hotel room but with the size and the kitchen it will also work as an apartment. Both apartments will naturally be fitted with furniture from the Bautier collection. The two apartments can be rented out separately or rented as one space with two individual bedrooms.
At the moment, Joaquim, the worker, is building non-stop. Joaquim also carried out the first renovation of the building, a very skilled and treasured collaborator. The first three months of the construction phase were spent building the reinforced concrete slab to support the new floor. Now, all the walls are up and the roof too. Next step is ordering the windows which will be mounted end of September. ‘As always with construction sites, you have to be patient and take one step at a time. Luckily, we are in a situation where the architect, Joaquim and I can work in a balanced tempo. The apartments should open to visitors in September 2024’, finishes Marina.