Connie’s Accessible Bath/Dressing Room, New York
Why Bamboo Should be Indoors: An Accessible Bathroom for An Aging Artist
The programme stipulated the requirement for an accessible, obstruction-free bathroom/ walk-in dressing area with a hidden laundry closet. This job exemplifies that size and function are almost immaterial - an intimate 170sf bathroom space carefully conceived can be totally transformed into a visually powerful space. Connie, the exuberant client and an exhibiting, colourful art-naïve artist of note, in her 80’s was planning for possible future accessibility needs. As circumstances prevailed Connie broke her hip two weeks into the job.
The bathroom was enlarged by relocating all the plumbing fixtures including the vanity, shower and water closet. The rear-outlet, wall-hung water-closet and cantilevered vanity create an obstruction-free floor space for ease of mobility, as well as ease of cleaning. The full-height, easy-glide sliding glazed bathroom door and sliding high-tech shower enclosure door eliminate obtrusive door swings. The open bamboo-clad closets allow for easy visibility of closet contents. The Samuel Heath Xenon ADA-compliant grab bars with matching towel bars display a functionalist application of simple geometric form; bold and sculptural - the essence of minimalism without extraneous elements, eliminating the feel of a hospital bathroom.
The prominently featured finish material is blond-striated, strand-bamboo. Strand bamboo is a rapidly renewable, sustainable, hard and durable material. Strand bamboo was installed in the flooring throughout, the open walk-in closet cladding, the vanity, and the laundry doors.
The dressing area contains a hidden laundry closet with an energy efficient stacked washing-machine and vent-less dryer. The equipment sits on a custom-made, shallow stainless-steel pan with a shut-off water sensor. The laundry door bi-folds and tucks tightly under the dropped ceiling soffit to lie flat against the adjacent wall in an open position when the machines are in use.
By selectively carving the ceiling planes to relate to function only - a sculptured three-dimensional effect was created. The existing low 7’-6” ceilings were raised to just under 8’-6” where possible. Structural beams, piping and duct-work were hidden within the lowered dropped ceiling planes. The harsh transition of the dropped ceiling soffits was softened by floating recessed lit edges. The client required a well-lit space – the conical ceiling-mounted, caged-marine light fixtures, while throwing light onto the floor, add a jewel-like quality. The hidden strip lights in the ceiling coves and under the vanity and medicine cabinet add an ethereal quality.
Connie worked with Eli, a master decorative plasterer mixing paint until all colours of the surrounding finishes were fully, yet subtlety incorporated into portions of the remaining unfinished walls. These serve as a backdrop to showcase Connie’s new art collection.
I like design to be syntactically consistent, and pragmatically understandable.
I like it to be visually powerful, intellectually elegant, and above all timeless.
Lilian H. Weinreich