Joining the Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory 2022, our annual list of exciting emerging practices from across the globe, is a young USA-based practice, Architensions. Partners Alessandro Orsini and Nick Roseboro are behind one of the studio’s most recent works, House On House, which challenges ideas around suburban house design.

Who: Architensions

Based in New York and Rome, Architensions was founded in 2010 by Alessandro Orsini, with Nick Roseboro joining in 2013. The studio works at the intersection of theory, practice and academia, rooting its projects in detailed research. Roseboro describes Architension’s practice as one grounded in learning and experimentation: ‘For us, the studio is also a learning environment, a space for experimentation, failing and trying again, a place to search for something new.’ The studio’s growing portfolio varies from public installations, such as the steel-frame Playground at the Coachella festival in California, to residential projects, such as Blurring Boxes, an apartment renovation with extensions clad in charred wooden slats, and the more recent House on a House (pictured). There’s also education spaces such as Children’s Playspace, an indoor playground in Brooklyn that consists of colourful plywood structures.

Alongside its built projects, the practice has written a book, titled Forma Urbana, which documents its research. Architensions has also featured in several exhibitions at institutions such as the Casa dell’Architettura in Rome, and the Van Alen Institute and The Storefront for Art and Architecture, both in New York. Currently on show at the Centre for Architecture, in New York, is its case study titled Decolonizing Suburbia within the exhibition ‘Reset: Towards a New Commons’. Through their practice and research, Orsini and Roseboro hope to ‘give agency to architecture as a possible force to better society’. 

exterior detail of architensions’ House On House residence, a suburban house with a twist

What: House On House

Disrupting the monotonous mundanity of American suburbia, House on House seeks to push and question what the home can be. The studio was approached in 2018 to extend an existing typical compact ranch house in Babylon, Long Island. The architects began by surveying and cataloguing the architecture found within the suburban neighbourhood, which led Orisini to note that suburbia in America ‘is insular, introverted, with the single-family house being completely isolated’.

The practice sought to subvert this by ‘deconstructing the elements of domesticity and pulling them out of their traditional realm’. The result is the transformation of a traditionally introverted enclosure into an open space that faces the neighbourhood. Situated on the first floor are the open-plan kitchen and living room, as well as a separate study and guest room, which connects to the new second floor by a cylindrical yellow staircase that opens directly onto the bedroom. The most unconventional addition is on the outside of the new second floor. Facing the street, Architensions has designed an outdoor space, ‘which is not quite a balcony or porch’. Instead, it resembles an exposed internal corridor emerging from a semi-circle cut in the façade. Clad in mauve tiles, at night it ‘glows, contributing a warm presence to the neighbourhood’.

The new extension has not gone unnoticed. ‘People would stop their cars to take photographs of this weird object on top of the house,’ the directors say. ‘[Previously] the anonymity of the structure didn’t give any agency to entertain any conversation even with the nearest of neighbours.’ Clearly, this unconventional new outdoor space softens the insular nature of suburbia, thus fostering new social interactions.

interior space of architensions’ House On House residence, a suburban house with a twist

Why: Architects Directory 2022

Conceived in 2000 as an international index of emerging architectural talent, the Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory is our annual listing of promising practices from across the globe. While always championing the best and most promising young studios, over the years, the project has showcased inspiring work with an emphasis on the residential realm. Now including more than 500 alumni, the Architects’ Directory is back for its 22nd edition. Join us as we launch this year’s survey – 20 young studios from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, France, Greece, India, Indonesia, Japan, Nigeria, Paraguay, Thailand, the UAE, the UK, the USA, and Vietnam with plenty of promise, ideas and exciting architecture. §

yellow geometries inside of architensions’ House On House residence, a suburban house with a twist
interior of of architensions’ House On House residence, a suburban house with a twist
exterior detail of entrance of architensions’ House On House residence, a suburban house with a twist
aerial view of House On House residence, an American suburban house with a twist
yellow rounded interior feature in house in Babylon, Long Island