It may be hard to believe it, but even in this anxious, socially distanced time, our cities continue to densify – in many cases growing like Tetris blocks, one structure on top of the next. This can result in clunky, inefficient, and disconnected constructions – but New York architects Archi-Tectonics had a better idea for their latest residential project. They merged a narrow and shallow (about 20 ft wide by 40 ft deep) turn-of-the-century industrial building in Tribeca with a new, four-storey addition, via a third structure: a latticed trellis of steel framing and Trespa panels that firm founder Winka Dubbeldam calls a ‘climate skin'.
This outer layer, composed of vibrantly shifting patterns and densities, folds open like fingers unclenching (or as Dubbeldam puts it, a bird’s wings unfolding). This lets the owners – Oliver Hicks, founder of production agency North Six Group and his family – fine-tune heating, cooling, natural light, and ventilation naturally. ‘I open and close it more than I thought I would,' notes Hicks. ‘It’s adaptable to different situations, times, and seasons.'
‘I wanted the façade to transform when it opened,' adds Dubbeldam. The trellis, which Dubbeldam also likes to call ‘the third building', wraps up and around the top of the home, carving out a shaded top floor roof garden and even protecting a large skylight to the rear. It also provides privacy or connection to the street, spontaneous variety, and outdoor space on nearly every floor, via converted fire escapes and new enclosed balconies.
Diverse levels play together like, well, Tetris pieces. Upper stories, set in slightly from the original building, interlock floors via ceiling pop-ups and tall windows. The steel, glass-fronted rear stair, which threads the project together, creates peeks between lower levels, while also pouring light into what could have been the darkest part of the building via a large skylight and a glazed elevator shaft.
Unique, flexible spaces in the home’s historic lower half celebrate exposed brick walls and wood beams, while in the addition, they highlight lightness and luminosity. Each type of space gets its own floor, including a basement playroom, a serene kitchen/family room, a chic, eclectic living/dining room, light-filled bedrooms, guestroom, and study, and the greenery-filled rooftop deck. Throughout the pandemic, says Hicks, this spatial diversity has been a godsend, lending the couple and their twin four year olds new options and perspectives.
‘You can get on with your everyday life in your own world,' notes Hicks, describing a scenario that’s especially precious in space-starved Manhattan. ‘There’s enough room, and enough variety, for everyone to do their own thing.'
Receive our daily digest of inspiration, escapism and design stories from around the world direct to your inbox
Comic book watches: from Mickey Mouse to Spiderman
Comic book watches, from brands such as Audemars Piguet, Oris, Ulysse Nardin and Reservoir, come with a ‘Pow!’ factor
By James Gurney Published
More design in Miami: things to see in town this weekend
From Design District installations to the new disruptive design fair, highlights for design around the city
By Rosa Bertoli Published
Alex Israel uses BMW technology for AI-powered video installation
Alex Israel’s 'REMEMBR' at Art Basel Miami Beach 2023 uses AI technology to curate and choreograph a visitor’s phone camera content into a video installation across seven screens
By Pei-Ru Keh Published
‘Frank Lloyd Wright’s Southwestern Pennsylvania’: two exhibitions bring new life to historic designs
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Southwestern Pennsylvania and Fallingwater designs, realised and unrealised, are celebrated in two exhibitions, at The Westmoreland and at Fallingwater itself
By Audrey Henderson Published
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival design by Studio Gang revealed
The first images for the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival by Studio Gang have been unveiled
By Ellie Stathaki Published
Learnings from the Architecture Sarasota MOD Weekend 2023
Architecture Sarasota MOD Weekend 2023 highlights local midcentury architects’ timeless responses to sustainability and a site-specific approach
By Angella d'Avignon Published
Roy Lichtenstein studio is now home to the Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program
The 1912 Roy Lichtenstein studio has been updated by Johnston Marklee to include individual artist studios, a seminar room and other facilities
By Pei-Ru Keh Published
This artist’s studio on Long Island is carefully placed amidst a wooded site
Architects Worrell Yeung designed the Springs artist's studio to blend into the trees, with leafy views from the lofty atelier
By Jonathan Bell Published
Lever House in New York gets a 21st-century makeover
Some 70 years after its completion, SOM returns to Lever House in New York, bringing the high-rise landmark to the 21st century
By Diana Budds Published
FRPO’s Oregon house explores modern materials and a circular plan
This single-storey Oregon house in the Pacific Northwest offers a radical new take on suburban living
By Jonathan Bell Published
Camino House is a revived 1960s home in San Francisco’s Silicon Valley
Lindsay Gerber’s tactful refurbishment of Camino House brings a quiet glamour to the wood-panelled 1960s home in San Francisco’s Silicon Valley
By Shonquis Moreno Published