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A former warehouse for printing presses converted to a loft apartment on Chicago's Near West Side 400SGreenLoft.jpg
A former warehouse for printing presses converted to a loft apartment on Chicago's Near West Side
A US-sense loft; the additional story covers only a few rooms, leaving one or more sides open to the lower floor Cabins with Loft.jpg
A US-sense loft; the additional story covers only a few rooms, leaving one or more sides open to the lower floor

A loft is a building's upper storey or elevated area in a room directly under the roof (American usage), or just an attic: a storage space under the roof usually accessed by a ladder (primarily British usage). A loft apartment refers to large adaptable open space, often converted for residential use (a converted loft) from some other use, often light industrial. Adding to the confusion, some converted lofts include upper open loft areas.


Loft and attic

In U.S usage, a loft is an upper room or storey in a building, mainly in a barn, directly under the roof, used for storage (as in most private houses). In this sense it is roughly synonymous with attic, the major difference being that an attic typically constitutes an entire floor of the building, while a loft covers only a few rooms, leaving one or more sides open to the lower floor.

In British usage, lofts are usually just a roof space accessed via a hatch and loft ladder, while attics tend to be rooms immediately under the roof accessed via a staircase. Lofts may have a specific purpose, e.g. an "organ loft" in a church, or to sleep in (sleeping loft). In barns a hayloft is often larger than the ground floor as it would contain a year's worth of hay.

An attic or loft can often be converted to form a functional living accommodation (see Loft conversions in the United Kingdom).

In modern Norwegian and in English, "loft" is used for the upper room or the space just under the roof in larger buildings. The word originates from Old Norse lopt, loft which also could mean air or being elevated (as in the related word løfte, English "to lift"). [1] [2] In older Scandinavian usage, loft referred to a two-storey unheated building used for storage and bedroom, in contrast to dwelling buildings that were one-storey with a fire place. [3] [4] [5]

Loft apartment

Warehouses converted into loft apartments in Hoxton, London, England Cotton's Gardens.jpg
Warehouses converted into loft apartments in Hoxton, London, England

Loft apartments are apartments that are generally built from former industrial buildings. When industrial developments are developed into condominiums instead of apartments, they may be called loft condominiums. The general term warehouse-to-loft conversions may sometimes be used for development of industrial buildings into apartments and condominiums. "Loft-style" may also refer simply to developments where a street-level business occupies the first floor while apartment "lofts" are placed above the first floor.[ citation needed ]

Sometimes, loft apartments are one component of municipal urban renewal initiatives that also include renovation of industrial buildings into art galleries and studio space as well as promotion of a new part of the city as an "arts district".

Originally popular with artists, they are now highly sought-after by other bohemians and hipsters, and the gentrification of the former manufacturing sectors of medium to large cities is now a familiar pattern. [6] One such sector is Manhattan's Meatpacking District. The adoption of the Adaptive Reuse Ordinance (2001) in the City of Los Angeles (primarily the Arts District) is another example of such legislation to encourage the conversion of no longer economically viable industrial and commercial buildings to residential loft communities. Such is the demand for these spaces that real estate developers have taken to creating ready-made "lofts" in urban areas that are gentrifying or that seem primed to do so. While some of these units are created by developers during the renovation of old buildings, a number of them are included in the floor plans of brand new developments. Both types of pre-fab loft offer buyers or renters proximity to urban amenities afforded by traditional lofts, but without perceived safety risks of living in economically depressed formerly industrial areas.

Industrial/hard loft

Real estate industry distinguishes between two kinds of lofts. "Hard lofts" are former industrial buildings converted to residential or live/work use. Many of these conversions retain open ceilings with exposed beams, electrical wiring and HVAC ducts instead of modern suspended ceilings or sheetrock ceilings.

Soft loft

"Soft lofts" are loft-style residential buildings built entirely anew. They are open-concept spaces with high ceilings, large windows, brickwork and cement ceilings. Soft lofts can be warmer and have modern finishes but lack the history of hard lofts. [7]

Other lofts

Commercial loft

A commercial loft refers to upper storey space, usually in a commercial or industrial building with higher ceilings; a second storey area for storage or offices above may be added within the original space used by a previous business occupant, effectively becoming a mezzanine area within the commercial loft space. Such adaptation of loft space, can result in better operating efficiencies for ongoing light industrial, commercial and work/live use.

Live/work loft

A Live/work loft is a residential unit located in a commercially zoned building that has either been issued a certificate of residential occupancy or meets specific criteria making it eligible for the protection of loft laws, which vary state by state. In New York State, a live/work loft must meet the following criteria:

  1. The building was formerly used for manufacturing or commercial purposes;
  2. The building has at least three units that were occupied residentially for 12 consecutive months during the window period from January 1, 2008 – December 31, 2009
  3. The unit is at least 400SF with at least one window and can be accessed directly from a common area such as a hallway or the street; and
  4. The unit has a certificate of occupancy (CO) or an application for Loft Law protection has been filed on or before March 14, 2014.

Loft Law was designed to protect artists and other entrepreneurs that are remote workers. To qualify for the Loft Law protection, the unit must be primarily residential with the commercial purpose being clearly incidental to the residential use; utilising no more than 49% of the total space; with no more than 3 employees; and be carried on by the actual occupant of the unit.

Historically, loft residents consisted of artists and other artisans taking advantage of cheap rents, large spaces and load-bearing floors. Loft residences were illegal and loft dwellers resided under commercial leases, forgoing basic residential rights such as hot water and sanitation. To relieve their plight, many state legislatures enacted loft laws.

Mould loft

A long building at a shipyard with a considerable floor area on which the lines produced by a naval architect can be laid off in their full dimensions. After that the full-size drawings can be copied with the aid of wooden moulds to which, in turn, the steel frames or, in the case of wooden vessels, the hull moulds, are fashioned (see lofting).

Rigging loft

An elevated area or gallery in a shipyard where workers stand while fitting rigging.

Parachute loft

A large, open, high ceilinged space where parachute riggers re-pack parachutes into parachute containers.

Sail loft

A large open space used by sailmakers to make sails. The floor has to be big enough to lay out the sail as the canvas is marked and cut ready for sewing.

Church architecture

An organ loft in Germany Blasiuskirche MHL Orgelempore Westen.jpg
An organ loft in Germany

Some churches have a choir loft, where the singers stand or sit during services. Sometimes the church organ is located in an organ loft, which may or may not have space for musicians apart from the organist. Churches may also contain triforiums with projecting watching-lofts.

Loft conversions

It is fairly common to convert all or part of a home into a loft to create an extra room in order to prevent needing to move to a new house. The most common additions are an extra bedroom or study. The attic area of a building tends to be unused, but when converted can add a large amount of floor space.< [8]

Pigeon loft

Pigeon loft Bundesarchiv Bild 183-W0212-034, Sporttaubenzuchter.jpg
Pigeon loft

Housing for domestic pigeons are often called pigeon lofts. [9] Pigeon lofts consist of a large cage or aviary and sometimes a nest box. They were a traditional amenity, now usually abandoned or repurposed in the palaces of nobility and commercial buildings that predate telegraphy.

See also

Related Research Articles

Apartment Self-contained housing unit occupying part of a building

An apartment, or flat, is a self-contained housing unit that occupies part of a building, generally on a single story. There are many names for these overall buildings, see below. The housing tenure of apartments also varies considerably, from large-scale public housing, to owner occupancy within what is legally a condominium, to tenants renting from a private landlord.

Bungalow House, primarily of a single storey

A bungalow is a small house or cottage that is either single-story or has a second story built into a sloping roof, and may be surrounded by wide verandas.

Basement Below-ground floor of a building

A basement or cellar is one or more floors of a building that are completely or partly below the ground floor. It generally is used as a utility space for a building, where such items as the furnace, water heater, breaker panel or fuse box, car park, and air-conditioning system are located; so also are amenities such as the electrical system and cable television distribution point. In cities with high property prices, such as London, basements are often fitted out to a high standard and used as living space.

Penthouse apartment Unit on the top floor of a building

A penthouse is an apartment or unit on the highest floor of an apartment building, condominium, hotel or tower. Penthouses are typically differentiated from other apartments by luxury features. The term 'penthouse' originally referred, and sometimes still does refer, to a separate smaller 'house' that was constructed on the roof of an apartment building. Architecturally it refers specifically to a structure on the roof of a building that is set back from its outer walls. These structures do not have to occupy the entire roof deck. Recently, luxury high rise apartment buildings have begun to designate multiple units on the entire top residential floor or multiple higher residential floors including the top floor as penthouse apartments, and outfit them to include ultra-luxury fixtures, finishes, and designs which are different from all other residential floors of the building. These penthouse apartments are not typically set back from the building’s outer walls, but are instead flush with the rest of the building and simply differ in size, luxury, and consequently price.

Attic Space or room below a pitched roof of house or other building.

An attic is a space found directly below the pitched roof of a house or other building; an attic may also be called a sky parlor or a garret. Because attics fill the space between the ceiling of the top floor of a building and the slanted roof, they are known for being awkwardly shaped spaces with exposed rafters and difficult-to-reach corners.

Multifamily residential Type of housing development that emphasizes density and proximity of many neighbors

Multifamily residential is a classification of housing where multiple separate housing units for residential inhabitants are contained within one building or several buildings within one complex. Units can be next to each other, or stacked on top of each other. A common form is an apartment building. Many intentional communities incorporate multifamily residences, such as in cohousing projects. Sometimes units in a multifamily residential building are condominiums, where typically the units are owned individually rather than leased from a single apartment building owner.

Mill conversion

Mill Conversion or mill rehab is a form of adaptive reuse in which a historic mill or industrial factory building is restored or rehabilitated into another use, such as residential housing, retail shops, office, or a mix of these non-industrial elements (mixed-use).

Loft conversions in the United Kingdom

A loft conversion or an attic conversion is the process of transforming an empty attic space or loft into a functional room, typically used as a bedroom, office space, a gym, or storage space. Loft conversions are one of the most popular forms of home improvement in the United Kingdom as a result of their numerous perceived benefits. The installation of a loft conversion is a complicated process, and whilst it may be possible to attempt a 'DIY' loft conversion, the large amount of work involved often results in many people choosing to contract a specialist loft conversion company to undertake the task.

Broad Exchange Building Residential skyscraper in Manhattan, New York

The Broad Exchange Building, also known as 25 Broad Street, is a residential building at Exchange Place and Broad Street in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan in New York City. The 20-story building was designed by Clinton & Russell and built between 1900 and 1902. The Alliance Realty Company developed the Broad Exchange Building as a speculative development for office tenants.

49 Chambers Residential building in Manhattan, New York

49 Chambers, formerly known as the Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank Building and 51 Chambers Street, is a residential building at 49–51 Chambers Street in the Civic Center neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City. It was built between 1909 and 1912 and was designed by Raymond F. Almirall in the Beaux-Arts style. The building occupies a slightly irregular lot bounded by Chambers Street to the south, Elk Street to the east, and Reade Street to the north.

Louis Dubin

Louis Myerberg Dubin is a fourth-generation real estate developer who develops upscale condominiums, typically in large east-coast United States cities. He is a founding partner of Redbrick LMD, an opportunistic real estate investment and developments company headquartered in Washington, D.C. His former New York based firm Athena often sold condominiums to middle and upper-middle class buyers. His firm converted landmark buildings into luxury condominiums, one of which was bought by Charles Bronfman. He designed buildings to feature art by artist-sculptors such as Jonathan Cramer. He was described by New York Magazine as being one of the "new generation of uptown A-listers".

75 Holland Road, Hove

75 Holland Road in Hove, part of the English coastal city of Brighton and Hove, is now in residential use as loft-style apartments called Palmeira Yard, but was originally a repository belonging to the Brighton & Hove Co-operative Supply Association, the main cooperative business organisation in the area. Elaborately designed in 1893 in the French Second Empire style by local architect Thomas Lainson of the firm Lainson & Sons, the storage building had built-in stables and was lavishly decorated with terracotta. After a period of ownership by haulage and removals company Pickfords, who used the building for furniture storage, a local architecture firm carried out the conversion into mixed-use live-work units between 2004 and 2006. English Heritage has listed the building at Grade II for its architectural and historical importance.

Rumely Building Building in Saskatoon, Canada

The Rumely Building is a heritage building located at 244–226 Pacific Avenue in the Central Business District of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Formerly serving as a warehouse for the Rumely Company, the building has been converted into residential condominium lofts with commercial units located on the ground floor.

Broadway Hollywood Building

The Broadway Hollywood Building is a building in Los Angeles' Hollywood district. The building is situated in the Hollywood Walk of Fame monument area on the southwest corner of the intersection referred to as Hollywood and Vine, marking the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. It was originally built as the B. H. Dyas Building in 1927. The Broadway Hollywood Building is referred to by both its main address of 6300 Hollywood Boulevard and its side address of 1645 Vine Street.

St Marys Presbytery, Warwick

St Mary's Presbytery is a heritage-listed Roman Catholic presbytery of St Mary's Roman Catholic Church at 142 Palmerin Street, Warwick, Southern Downs Region, Queensland, Australia. It was designed by Wallace & Gibson and built from 1885 to 1887 by John McCulloch. It is also known as Father JJ Horan's private residence. It was added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 31 July 2008.

Eagley Mills is a complex of former cotton mills in Eagley, Bolton, England. The complex is adjacent to a model village originally built for the millworkers. The surviving mill buildings have since been converted to residential use.

Toxteth, Millers Point

Toxteth is a heritage-listed residence located at 94 Kent Street, in the inner city Sydney suburb of Millers Point in the City of Sydney local government area of New South Wales, Australia. It was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999.

107-109 Bathurst Street, Sydney Heritage-listed building in Sydney, Australia

107-109 Bathurst Street, Sydney is a heritage-listed former bank building and now KFC fast food restaurant located at 107-109 Bathurst Street in the Sydney central business district, in the City of Sydney local government area of New South Wales, Australia. The property is privately owned. It was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999.

889 Broadway Historic building in Manhattan, New York

889 Broadway, also known as the Gorham Manufacturing Company Building, is a Queen Anne style building located at Broadway and East 19th Street in the Flatiron District of Manhattan in New York City, within the Ladies' Mile Historic District. Built in 1883–1884, it was designed by Edward Hale Kendall.

Loft (building)

Loft is a traditional two-storey wooden building preserved mostly in Norway. A loft was used for storage and sleeping, and is known since the early Middle Ages. Loft buildings dating from around 1200 are preserved in rural areas. Lofts were typically built in log technique, unlike the post and lintel construction in stave churches. Many lofts have an external corridor or balcony resting on a log corbel. The oldest non-religious wooden buildings in Norway are lofts. In addition to the stave church, Christian Norberg-Schulz regards the loft as Norway's most important contribution to history of architecture.


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  2. [ bare URL ]
  3. Pulsiano, P., & Wolf, K. (Eds.). (2017). Routledge Revivals: Medieval Scandinavia (1993): An Encyclopedia (Vol. 1). Routledge.
  4. Roesdahl, E. (2018). Housing culture: Scandinavian perspectives. Reflections: 50 Years of Medieval Archaeology, 1957–2007, 271-288.
  5. "loft – bygningstype", Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian Bokmål), 2021-06-24, retrieved 2022-03-31
  6. Zukin, Sharon (1989). Loft living: culture and capital in urban change . Rutgers University Press. ISBN   0-8135-1389-8.
  7. Filiatrault,Karyn (2013-07-13). "Will It Be Hard or Soft When You're Buying A Loft in Toronto?". Toronto. Retrieved 2017-04-03.
  8. "Quality Living Loft Conversions".
  9. Levi, Wendell (1977). The Pigeon. Sumter, S.C.: Levi Publishing Co, Inc. p. 507. ISBN   0-85390-013-2.