John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Polish architects have designed a swanky apartment building perched on the chimneys of an old factory.
Of course you would. Who wouldn't want to reside in the realm of the falcons, supported by the smokestacks of a decaying industrial behemoth? The view from the rooftop deck would be amazing, as long as you're not getting your fillings blown out by the jet stream. Get those chimneys working again and you could smoke your own meat.
Alas, the cloudloft is but a mind-spurt of Polish firm be3design, and is not likely to get built given its bizarre countenance and physical challenges. (Prove me wrong, Poland!) Still, architects are giving it much-deserved love. The concept won first place in 2012's "New Vision of the Loft," an international design competition put on by A10 magazine and roof-window-maker (you read that right) FAKRO. The cloudloft beat out a Dublin factory with lofts stapled to its side and an idea to colonize a city's unused roofs with more lofts.
This most unusual apartment building is sited for the industrial center of Bytom, located a little more than an hour's drive west of Krakow in the Upper Silesian coalfields. The people of Bytom have been mining ores as far back as the 12th century; during World War II, the city became an important producer of iron and steel. The mining industry has taken many blows, though, and today empty manufacturing plants dot the landscape like the rotting remains of extinct giants.
So why not repurpose them? The below photos will give you an idea of b3design's vision to turn a decrepit heating factory into the hottest lofts in town. There are two meanings behind the cloudloft's airy name: Obviously, it hovers where clouds form. But the architects have also graced the structure with irregular edges and lots of whitish skylights, so that it almost looks like the dead smokestacks are once again pumping out exhaust. Ah, the things that pass for nostalgia in a diehard manufacturing city.
Images courtesy of b3design. H/t to the reader-submission forum at Designboom.