Black again

Black Pearl, a modern reinterpretation of an old property in Rotterdam, was awarded the Public Award at the Dutch Design Awards recently.

Dutch designer Rolf has converted a 100-year old property, which has been vacant for some 30 years, in Rotterdam into something of a design treasure, aptly called the “Black Pearl”.

The reconstruction and transformation of this building earned Studio the Public Award at the 2011 Dutch Design Awards recently.

With Black Pearl Rolf experimented with time and space, introducing a new way of living and working. The city of Rotterdam is working to transform its existing housing stock, the so-called “klushuizen” (or DIY houses), by selling it at low prices and encouraging owners to turn it into more modern, liveable spaces through innovative design and strategic refurbishments.

Studio worked with Zecc Architects to paint the entire façade in a shiny black paint. Modern steel window frames were introduced, creating a sharp contrast to the black façade.

Inside the Black Pearl, all the walls were broken down to create just one big interior, what Rolf calls a “communicating space”. Keen to incorporate elements of the past, Rolf incorporated parts of the old walls and banister, as well as old wooden floor beams to reveal some of the partitioning of the former house.

A construction of wooden laths in the centre of the interior space form an enormous sculptural element, which also function as a utility space for wiring and piping. To realise “the highest possible level of spatial abstraction”, all redundant staircases, balcony fences, banister, balustrades and doors were removed, fusing the floors, walls, stairs and ceiling.

Black Pearl also incorporates a bamboo garden, a greenhouse on the roof terrace and a Jacuzzi placed to give the bather a fantastic view of Rotterdam.