Is it a house? Is it a gallery? The answer is: It is both! Poteet Architects design a house that doubles up as an art gallery for the owner’s large art collection.
Text By: Himali Kothari
Photographs: Colleen Duffley and Chris Cooper Courtesy The Architect
Quite often in homes, pieces of art are used to adorn bare walls or pillars; whether it is to fill an empty space or make a statement, it is very rare that a living space is actually designed to showcase the artistic acquisitions of its owner. Renowned actress and art collector Hedy Lamarr once said, “A good painting to me has always been like a friend. It not only keeps me company, but also comforts and inspires me.” And this is exactly what would sum up the brief given to Texas-based, Poteet Architects when they were signed on for this project.
The space in discussion is the Collector’s Loft, a massive 9200 square feet space that occupies the top two floors of a 1920’s factory in downtown San Antonio in Texas. Over the last few years Poteet Architects have mastered the art of putting old and derelict structures to new uses, so this was but a natural choice for this project.
A neutral palette has been employed through the house – for the walls, floor, ceiling, as well as for most of the furniture and furnishings – with white being predominant. As the art collection is the focal point of this home, white forms the perfect backdrop to showcase it as well as making it easy to adapt to any future changes in the collection. Wherever colour has been introduced, it has been done so with a great deal of thought, be it a bright yellow canvas in the dining area or a tomato-red door leading to one of the sitting areas. These splashes of colour serve to accentuate the starkness of the monochromatic colour scheme.
The lower level is dedicated to the living and service spaces. The service spaces have been accommodated in the centre of the plan. This allowed for the abundant window spaces to be left undisturbed and bring in the energies of the cityscape into the house. The inset porches, floor-to-ceiling windows and tall skylight shafts extract natural light and help scatter it throughout the space. The massive concrete columns that obstructed the fluid flow of spaces were cleverly transformed to serve as design elements.
As you walk up to the upper level, you realise that this is a haven for the collector. One gallery leads to another, each housing masterpieces collected and lovingly preserved over the years that have finally found a place they can call their own. These are here as much for the visitor’s admiring eye as for the inspiration they evoke. The level also incorporates a black box theatre and an 18 foot tall gallery that cuts away into the ceiling and extends to the rooftop. Strategically placed skylights illuminate the galleries with natural light bringing in a wholly different artistic element to the space.
Last but in no way the least, is the mammoth rooftop terrace-garden, which is ideal for entertaining. Minimalist and simple, the view of the surrounding city forms the only adornment. Some basic furniture scattered across the space and planters lining the periphery are the only additions here.
The piece de resistance is the gallery towering up from the lower level that provides a sneak peek into the art housed below. To complete the look, Poteet Architects also gave a much needed facelift to the exterior of the building. While the original rough brick structure was maintained to provide a contrast to the polished interiors, courtyards and balconies were added to the old factory building.
The Collector’s Loft is a standout example of balance between space and objects, where both do not compete for one-upmanship but instead coexist in harmony. But mostly, it fulfils the client’s brief to the tee… “To be able to live in a space that is dedicated to the display of art.”