Large cities like New York, Milan and Paris have no choice but to snatch up space for residential use in what used to be neighborhoods bustling with industrial activity. In areas where before there were workshops, laboratories and offices that have relocated to the outskirts, some urbanites have found in industrial buildings like factories and warehouses as excellent spaces to develop their domestic life in the midst of traffic and densely populated area. The moves are certainly the antidote to the decades of urban sprawl.
The appeal of these urban dwellings are precisely the architectural features and characteristics of these old structures and constructions ... with generous square footage, high ceilings, large windows and sometimes unique external spaces such as rooftop gardens or terraces ... they bring echoes of a previous world that for some is an attractive base on which to build a modern life that abstractly harkens the lifestyles of previous century.
It is amazing that mundane materials such as brick, wood and concrete, ever present in facades and interior spaces can evoke nostalgia in an otherwise modern and minimalist loft-loving set. Loft living is not by any means a new idea; this residential movement has been around since the 1970s, when the trendy move to the suburbs left many cities overflowing with vacant properties.
A renewed appeal for industrial spaces has captured the attention and dreams of the millennials. This interest has spawned developers from West Palm Beach to Seattle to recreate the urban experience, albeit in new construction. Condominiums and apartment buildings have adopted all the construction tectonics with such features as completely open floor plans, and selling what was once considered a property in the raw as finished. This means concrete floors and ceilings, exposed electrical conduits, air conditioning vents, and even steel structural members all there for the show and the "loft" experience. All this means less cost and larger profits for the developers, and new homeowners are left to customize interiors at their will.
Manufacturers have also taken notice of this modern romance with urban tectonics. Tiles are now being produced to resemble cement, paints come in colors such as fresh concrete to demolition gray, and plumbing hardware has gone from being buried deep in walls to surface-mounted fixtures in matte nickel-finished to oil rubbed bronze to recall machine part and time-worn fixtures.
You would think these new lofts are appealing for the young millennials only, but that isn't the case. It seems that many young-at-heart empty nesters are also embracing the urban warrior lifestyle. It kind of makes sense...communal living in buildings with services such as gyms, doormen and near services and amenities such as restaurants and shops. What's not to like? So don't be surprised if you see your Grandmother's friend Myrna and a group of her friends in the elevator on their way out to the neighborhood coffeehouse. It's a sign of the times and a reaffirming move that reinforces the fact that city living offers so much to so many.
Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Fla. His website is www.josephpubillones.com. To find out more about Joseph Pubillones, or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.