The project lays the groundwork for unprecedented paradigms of community living in Brooklyn
The Gowanus area of Brooklyn is becoming an increasingly popular destination for young couples and families fleeing the chaos of New York City in search of a calmer neighborhood in which to settle down. The area has been able to transform its industrial past into a new residential-oriented soul, characterized by human-scale housing models, a strong presence of green and new condominiums springing up alongside traditional row houses, the brownstones.
The recent development of a pedestrian path created an opportunity for SO-IL architects to realize a residential complex, 450 Warren, that lays the groundwork for a new housing model.
What are the new models of community living? This question was the starting point for the architects, who wanted to free themselves from traditional patterns and protocols to truly meet the needs of future residents. They found joint responses in a few key points: the presence of outdoor spaces, places for neighbors to meet, light, greenery, and the possibility of living out domestic intimacy without excluding others.
The design of 450 Warren was born from these prerequisites. From the street, the complex appears as a cluster of smaller, stacking volumes that open towards the exterior through large rectangular windows and loggias, almost reminiscent of the shapes of a small village.
Three courtyard gardens create a filter between the complex and street and a meeting place for residents, while also bringing green within the complex and creating highly habitable living spaces. Open-air pathways on multiple levels allow residents to follow the movement of the neighborhood. In addition, each apartment is equipped with a small, private, and covered space in front of the home’s entrance, that acts as a filter between the private and condominium spheres, almost reproposing the more common model of a house with a porch in a more compact way. The residences feature large outdoor terraces that extend the family living space while the loggias carve out the volumes on the exterior fronts, mitigating the presence of the street.
The design of the common spaces has a strongly industrial look and the exposed concrete surfaces create a rough environment. A wire mesh was placed for protection along the pathways that fluidly winds along the inner courtyard, constituting a parapet that seems to have fallen from above and gives the complex a fun, playground-like appearance.
To incentivize community living, there are common areas dedicated to residents such as a yoga room, a co-working area, and a space to bathe pets.
Finally, great attention was paid to the sustainability of the project – it is part of the Zone Green initiative, which aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30% by 2030. The gardens and common spaces were planted with native plant species, and a rainwater harvesting system was installed for irrigation. The building envelope has high thermal insulation, while the large openings and airiness of the apartments allow natural aeration of the environments, reducing the need for mechanical ventilation.
Location: Brooklyn, New York, Washington, USA
General Contractor: KSK Construction Group
Architect of Record: Kane AUD
Structures: Silman Associates, DPC
MEP: ABS Engineering, PLLC
Envelope: Laufs Engineering Design, LLC
Geotechnics: GZA GeoEnvironmental of NY
Landscape: Brooklyn Grange
Lighting: Lighting Workshop
Photography by Iwan Baan / Naho Kubota, courtesy of SO-IL