Homes Photo Credit: Brian Buchsdruecker

Design Crush: Alykhan Velji Transforms a Bank Into an Art-Deco Fitness Studio

Relive all your Fame fantasies at this gorgeous new ballet-inspired studio in Calgary.

When Calgary designer Aly Velji of Alykhan Velji Designs came on board to help the owners transform a gutted bank into Barre Belle, a ballet-inspired fitness studio in the city’s Mission district, it was clear where the inspiration would come from: a ballet slipper. “We looked at their logo, a big ‘x’ with a line underneath—inspired by a cross-hatched tie on a ballet slipper,” he says. “We ran with that.”

You’ll see it in the moulding work, the shape of the entry desk, even the faucet handles in the changing rooms. And perhaps even more directly—in the dozens of hand-cut ribbons that are tied to a screen overhead of the main entry desk.

Each of the ribbons above the desk was hand-cut and hand-tied to a screen—and even the desk itself is shaped like an “x,” a pattern than runs throughout the space.

In the studio spaces, millwork patterns on the walls feel both Art Deco and vintage dance studio-inspired.



Because the space was formerly a bank, a massive concrete vault still stood in the space. The original plans were to remove it entirely, but budget restrictions resulted in a creative execution using the existing structure. The space was converted into a retail hub for the studio, and cleverly named The Vault, of course.



In the main entry, also seen above, Velji created a welcoming, warm space with a Persian rug, sheepskins and colourful throw pillows—the latter actually vintage rugs dyed in vibrant colours.

Industrial-style lockers were given a warmer feel thanks to an update of a custom colour in a cool turquoise. The lights above the lockers are from Ikea and were originally black; Velji’s team spray-painted them in a stunning gold finish.


Even the water station feels like a bold design statement, with black lace tiles, a concrete sink and industrial-style sconces.


In the change room area, it was important that it not feel like a bathroom, says Velji, but a welcoming space to hang out post workout. The backsplash is made of a stunning hexagonal tile, the faucets highlight that “x” pattern again, and the real showstopper is that mural from Vancouver’s Anewall.



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