Earlier this year, The Architect’s Newspaper‘s (AN) Senior Editor Matt Shaw spoke with David Barry of development firm Ironstate, the group behind Urby, the new all-encompassing mixed-use development on Staten Island. As its first residents move in, AN toured the site with of Barry and lead architect Erikjan Vermeulen from Dutch practice Concrete.

Boasting an outdoor pool, bodega, coffee shop/bar, communal kitchen, and its very own on-site farm, the complex will house more than 900 residents. The scheme, said Vermeulen, is based very closely on Ironstate’s other project in Jersey City that’s slated to open this fall. “We wanted to make the most perfect unit,” said Vermeulen, who went on to add how he and his studio created a one-to-one test model unit in a warehouse. As part of the design process, they also laid out some floor plans at full scale. Vermeulen said that units were “almost equal” to those in the Jersey City project, with the only real difference being the “U-plan” layout of the overall building.

Creating a “smart space” that was “efficient” while keeping the design “simple and straightforward” was also on Concrete’s agenda. “Concrete provides solutions. No grand theories or abstract ideas. Just things that work,” the firm proclaims on their website. While this ethos can be sometimes seen as dogma (which Concrete declares they love “shattering“) the studio interspersed various furnishings and details within the interior and exterior to create a youthful vibe. These range from a quirky assortment of chairs to the extensive use of timber and graffiti-adorned faux-brick walls. The design aims to recreate the charming atmosphere of a small, independent coffee shop. It was no surprise to find a record player and a Smiths poster in the housing units for show.

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A 5,000 square-foot farm, managed by Farmer-in-Residence Zaro Bates (according to Urby, New York’s first) will grow more than 50 varieties of produce. These greens, fruits, vegetables, flowers, herbs, and roots will be used by Chef-in-Residence Brendan Costello as well as residents. Aside from producing ingredients on-site, an apiary with multiple bee hives is located on the roof. The honey harvested will be served in the café below and provides renters with the opportunity to learn how honey is made.

The environmental theme is carried through to the building’s performance too. LEED certified, the development features water filling stations in the lobbies, electric car chargers in the garage, and storage for 500 bicycles. 35,000 square feet of commercial space also comes with the site, due to be filled with an array of restaurants and shops. 

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