Consistent down to the detail
Renovating in a modern style
Architecture in the rough: Concrete, uncompromising and honest – this is Brutalism. In 1962, master church architect Rainer Disse, a student of the 60s star of architecture Egon Eiermann, built the St. Elisabeth Church and accompanying bell tower in Freiburg. The building has since been secularised. Yet how can a massive representative of Brutalism be reinterpreted and retained today? By sparing and reviving the valuable building structure thanks to architectural awareness.
Brutalism stands for honesty and responsibility in handling materials and construction. The bell tower of the St. Elisabeth Church in Freiburg is a reminder of that today. The nave of the church was deconsecrated in 2006 and converted into a residential building with 43 apartments. The tower has become a silent admonisher since then – always linked to the uncertainty of losing its permission to exist without the nave and being torn down. In 2014, the interior designer Ingrid Maria Buron de Preser discovered the windowless concrete tower: “It was love at first sight. For me the tower immediately possessed something magical”, remembers designer Buron de Preser. In collaboration with the State Memorial Office, the designer came up with a redesign concept, purchased the tower and thoroughly renovated it. Her idea: to completely retain and reinterpret the building structure made of concrete with the help of architecture integration – and so to breathe new life into the abandoned bell tower with a new concept for use.
The tower, which has stood empty for many years, was in a pitiful state, destroyed by vandalism and totally covered in dirt on the inside. “Although it's usually cheaper these days to knock something down and build something new, I absolutely wanted to keep the Brutalist architecture and renovate the tower in such a way that it can be retained as a cultural monument”, she explains.
Technical and functional clarity
In order to make the tower liveable, supply and disposal lines had to be brought in. “Pre-wall systems helped make it possible to work on the building structure in a gentle way and achieve a result that still looks good”. Her wish was to let the architecture take effect and relax the senses, “That's why I searched for timeless and honest materials for the furnishings that take back form and colour for the sake of architecture. For me, TECE products stand for technical and functional clarity and integrate inconspicuously into the surrounding architecture thanks to their timeless design.” Buron de Preser laughs: “Aside from that, I'm also a big fan of well-designed products that anyone can afford”.
No wonder, then, that the TECEone shower toilet was able to find a space in the top loft: maximum reduction of form and the highest concentration on functionality – without the frills. With changing apartment guests, the project development felt that the intuitive, self-explanatory operability and the classic design of the shower toilet were especially important. Additionally, she thought a step ahead here and combined the shower toilet with the height-adjustable TECElux toilet terminal.
Using every niche in the optimum way – thoroughly in the spirit of Eiermann
The designer went with the recessed installation of TECEdrainprofile in the three shower areas. The shower profile convinces with its honest, sustainable material, its form is reduced to bare essentials and it integrates perfectly into the room architecture. Here it is combined with large format, bright tiles on the wall and floor. The effort was worth it: the once dilapidated bell tower has now been turned into four floors of multiple, stylish lofts and apartments with bedrooms, kitchen, bathtub and floor-level shower. The five metre-high ground floor can be hired as a gallery, showroom, concept store or for cooking sessions. The crowning glory consists of the over eight metre-high "Heaven's Gate" loft – with a spectacular view out over Freiburg.