Experimental duplex design in Brooklyn by WORKac
New York based WORKac co-founders, Dan Wood and Amale Andraos, walk us through their latest residential completion, the Wyckoff Residence in Brooklyn, where they were called to refresh and expand a family home
When a couple decided to extend and refresh their duplex apartment in Brooklyn by purchasing and adding the upstairs apartment to their own, they turned to New York-based architecture studio WORKac for help. Co-founders Dan Wood and Amale Andraos applied their signature approach to the interior, combining rigorous research and a rich dollop of imagination and experimentation; their previous work, from the Diane von Furstenberg’s headquarters (a breakthrough project for the firm) to their recent contribution to the RA’s Eco-Visionaries exhibition in London shows just how exciting and open minded the practice can be.
Of course, the project didn’t come without its challenges. ‘The biggest one was simply finding an elegant and intuitive way to combine and connect the three floors,’ explains the pair. ‘The existing duplex was already quite complex in its combination of a basement and ground floor of different shapes and configurations. Adding in the newly-bought apartment above, which had a third shape and orientation meant we really needed to study the placement of the stair and how to visually connect these three very different spaces.’
The architects responded to the brief, which included space for entertaining, flexibility, and connections to the outdoors, by creating a rich composition of architectural details, colours, patterns and textures. The space spans three levels and a variety of domestic areas, from cosy bedrooms to expansive living areas.
A shimmering perforated metal staircase becomes a central architectural feature and connects the different floors. It also acts as a lightwell, drawing natural light deep into the lower ground level. On the top floors the metal’s smoothness contrasts other materials like the rougher exposed brick walls and the warm timber joinery. Elsewhere, bold patterns, such as a playful botanical William Morris wallpaper, add accents of vibrancy and colour.
And how would a fairly smaller scale project like this, compared to larger commissions the practice often has to tackle? ‘We do try to link our larger and smaller projects through things like focusing on the infrastructure/connections (the stair in this case), embracing colour and working with light,’ says the team. ‘Of course there are differences, but we do see the smaller projects like ‘short stories’ that are often testing grounds for larger ideas or projects.’ §