Young Projects saw an empty backyard in Williamsburg as an opportunity to completely evolve an existing townhouse with a floating extension, an internal second floor courtyard full of greenery and an unfurling rooftop terrace with views to Manhattan.
The gut renovation included replanning the interior to meet the tastes and needs of photographer and entrepreneur Jan Cieślikiewicz, who was looking for a home that was ‘filled with light and landscape’.
‘He also wanted to maximise the possible built area by incorporating a commercial space at the ground floor and a photography studio within the residence,’ says Bryan Young, principal at Young Projects, who solved the new typology of the house by lifting the extension off the ground and redistributing square footage into ‘two hovering volumes’. Beneath the extension, space was opened up for two street level parking spaces.
The existing townhouse of approximately 2,200 square feet was extended by 1,100 sq ft through the new extension
The extension facade was covered with black corrugated and perforated zinc cladding: ‘It serves as a visual veil that unifies the separate volumes of the extension and central courtyard into one singular element with varying degrees of transparency and opacity,’ says Young. The architects then painted the original brick townhouse black to unify the two textural facades through colour.
‘The design seeks to promote a sense of mystery and narrative. From the exterior, the mass of the old townhouse is quite distinct from the lifted volume of the addition, but from the interior the spaces are actually much more continuous,’ says Young of the whole design.
Inside, a staircase wrapped in grey felt swirls through the double height living space, which links the extension to the original building, meeting a grey felt curtain smoothly partitioning the space. ‘We used the felt for its slightly industrial aesthetic,’ says Young. ‘It has a visual softness and sophistication that allowed the material to work as a residential finish and as the living room curtain.’