By adding a large extension onto an existing building with a footprint of only 19 x 40 feet, we converted this townhouse into an 8-story vertically stacked tower of rooms, wrapped within a lattice envelope functioning as a climatic skin.
We addressed the challenge of nearly doubling the size of the townhouse by restoring the existing brick building meticulously, and assembling the additional program above as interlocking volumes. Interior and exterior spaces alternate and intersect to maximize spatial variety, while strategic cuts allow light to enter deep into the building section, and create curated views towards the surrounding neighborhood.
The building volume setbacks are inscribed within in a unifying, rectangular trellis envelope of multiple patterns and densities. Made from lightweight steel frame and folding panels clad with Trespa™ slats, this “smart climate control envelope” serves as an adaptable perimeter of the building. It provides shading and variable levels of privacy as well as spatial enclosure of outdoor balconies and roof terraces. Extensive prototyping assisted in optimizing the movement of the trellis panels, that transform as they open: when closed they are one smooth surface, when open “finger-like” fins fold out like feathers of a birdwing.
Like an intricate lacework dress, the sheathing changes character and appearance at different times of the day and view angles, and serves as both filter and amplifier between the privacy of the house and the public streetscape. The façade panels are operable, they can fold and slide open. This way, the façade effortlessly adapts to the residents’ changing needs, and simultaneously connects to and encloses from the outdoors.
Double height spaces between the kitchen and dining and between the study and master bedroom allow for spatial interlacing, long views through, and the double height windows connect the stairs back to the living spaces. The steel windows are by Italian manufacturer Mix Legno and Siberian Wood who provided the light wood floors.
In the rear of the building, a dramatic south-facing continuous window slot lights the 8-story blackened steel staircase, which connects all floors in tandem with a glass elevator in one continuous movement. This together with recessed LED lights, highlight the sensation of extreme verticality, and transforms mundane everyday tasks into a dynamic spatial experience.
A WBE registered Architectural Design Studio with offices in New York City, the Netherlands and China. We operate at multiple scales of investigation, ranging from objects, to buildings, to urban design. Our design is informed by deep material research and extensive prototyping. We rely on research-based design to generate innovation, and to create evocative and transformative environments, an Architecture that matters. We see innovation as a way to create a unique identity for each project, with task-specific presence and character. We are a diverse team of creative individuals with a wide range of skills and backgrounds, and our close collaboration with consultants, engineers, fabricators and contractors allows for instant feedback and optimization of our ideas. Our close association with academia and cutting-edge research labs allows us to stay at the forefront of design, technology and architectural discourse.
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