At the core of the historic and commercial center of Athens, in a modern building of the 60s, architect Constantine Bouras designed the atelier of artist Marina Karella, creating a bright open plan space which allows for unobstructed spatial and programmatic flows.
The atelier came to be from the combination of two highly compartmentalised apartment units into a sequence of open spaces, in order to cater to its new use as a creative space for painting and sculpture.
The atelier consists of the spacious main studio, for the production of paintings and sculptures, in continuation with which there is the artist’s office area and a sitting area. Adjacent to the other side of the main studio, there is an auxiliary studio, with shelving and archive cabinets – this can also double as a work space or a gallery space, since its two doors have been covered with hinged panels in order to be used as vertical working surfaces or for the exhibition of art pieces. Where one of the apartments’ kitchens used to be is now the depot, used for storing canvases, materials and tools. The inlaid marble backsplash of what-used-to-be the kitchen counter has been maintained as a trace on the wall, while the marble kitchen sinks have been repurposed in the bathroom and the main studio.
A major design issue was controlling the light from the harsh Athens sun, as the studio’s orientation is southeast, with continuous façade openings through which natural light bounces throughout the interior. The solution came through the installation of an aluminum louvers system, which can be adjusted in different positions, depending on the hour and the season, thus filtering the incoming light and diffusing it as indirect light, ideal for painting. At the same time, adjusting the louvers at different angles allows managing the surrounding views and interacting with the urban landscape.
The possibility of continuously reconfiguring the studio space was also a design parameter. The workshop furniture was put on wheels, in order to be moved around easily. A wooden table top was adjusted on an existing metal drawings cabinet, converting it in a wheeled table, easily rolled and used in any part of the studio as a workbench or a collaboration table. Wheeled cubes that can be used either as seats, for storage, or as small work surfaces, are scattered throughout the atelier.
The use of a single color for the walls and the ceiling, and a color of similar tonality for the floor, created an atmospheric sculptured interior, where the typical boundaries of floor, walls and ceiling are blurred as the space is washed with direct or indirect natural light – thus creating a white canvas for the art.
Images © Valentina Vagena