New York City’s Chelsea neighbourhood is surely close to bursting at the seams. With a slew of residential projects concentrating around the High Line all simultaneously in the works, it’s a wonder that the area’s street grid has been able to absorb the number of high-profile developments it already has.
That said, one project that we’re grateful there is still room for is Jardim, an otherworldly two tower building on West 27th Street, designed by the Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld. Boasting the same monumentality of Weinfeld’s other projects, albeit in a more urban form, Jardim cuts a striking figure with its private driveway, ample gardens and simple, monolithic structure that creates a distinct break from its surroundings.
Rendered mostly in brick and concrete, Jardim’s warm, tactile appearance is enhanced by the addition of latticed wood screens and a generously planted second-floor terrace that envelops the site.
‘In the beginning, we tried to play a little bit with the volumes because there were many specific rules and restrictions of where volumes could be recessed, or where building on the line of the site could take place,’ Weinfeld explains about the decision to have two buildings instead of just one. ‘Together, we tried to make many adjustments until we found a good resolution for the site.’
Rather than feeling squeezed in, the presence of two buildings (each 11 stories tall) with the resulting negative space creates a sense of movement that counteracts the neighbourhood’s density, a shrewd and commendable move by Weinfeld and Jardim’s developers, Centaur Properties and Greyscale Development Group. (Zaha Hadid’s 520 West 28th Street building will eventually loom next door.)
At almost every juncture, Jardim displays a graceful sense of restraint that imbues the spaces with a quiet dramatic tension. The driveway – an artful tunnel made from bricks – stretches through the site to connect 27th and 28th streets. Glass skylights in the terrace allow natural light to filter through to the residence’s swimming pool and gymnasium below. The apartments themselves are an elegant mix of smoked oak, marble, brass and limestone, for which panoramic windows looking out onto Manhattan provide the perfect backdrop.
‘This isn’t a kind of architecture that shouts, it’s an architecture that speaks low. I try to conduct people through the spaces, like a movie. You hope that people feel something from their proportions,’ Weinfeld muses. ‘What is very important for me is to have a very well-designed plan. For me, the function of a project is very important. It’s not a question of beauty. The building has to work to make sense.’
Already two years in the making, Jardim marks Weinfeld’s first residential development in New York City and will complete in 2017. Why not any earlier? ‘I was waiting for a call,’ the seasoned architect quips.