Upper space within a building, often open on one side, used for storage or other purposes (e.g., sleeping loft, hayloft). The term also refers to one of the upper floors in a factory or warehouse, typically undivided by partitions and now often converted to other uses, such as residences or artists' studios. In churches the rood loft is a display gallery above the rood screen (see cathedral), and a choir or organ loft is a gallery reserved for church singers and musicians. In theaters, the loft is the area above and behind the proscenium.
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Loft mainly refers to two different types of rooms. It typically refers to an upper story or attic in a building, directly under the roof. Alternatively, it can refer to a loft apartment which is a large adaptable open space either created or converted for residential use.
An attic loft can often be converted to form functional living accommodation (see loft conversion).
Loft apartments are apartments that are generally built into 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.
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 the gentrification of the former manufacturing sectors of large cities is now a familiar pattern. 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 luxurious residential loft communities. Such is the demand for these spaces among the well-off 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 extensive and costly 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 wealthy buyers or renters the proximity to urban amenities afforded by traditional lofts, but without the perceived safety risks of living in economically depressed industrial areas. Detractors argue that these ready-made units are neither produced nor consumed in the spirit of traditional loft living.