Posts tagged with "Residential Architecture":

The brother and sister architectural duo aiming to create the ultimate customizable, eco-friendly home

With a new project in the woods 30 miles outside of Helsinki, California and Finland–based brother and sister duo Ateljé Sotamaa is drawing on the longstanding tradition of shaping space outside the home through the home itself. The Atelier Houses are a planned community of 40 dwellings, but they are a far cry from beige clapboard subdivisions. Through digital fabrication and construction technology that leaves a light footprint on the land, the structures are infinitely customizable. Ateljé Sotamaa intends to create a new social space that is communal and ecological without sacrificing the comfort and conveniences of urban life.

The concept updates New Urbanism—a decades-old town plan based on walkable, green cities—with 21st-century technological optimism and individualistic zeal. Kivi Sotamaa, who cofounded the studio with his sister Tuuli, explained that the basic unit of an Atelier House is a single plank of wood. From there, clients can design almost infinitely customizable homes that draw on both the traditional Finnish fishing village and the camping lean-to, two typologies that embrace nature as a prerequisite of their functions.

“The house is radically open to the world around it,” Kivi said. “That’s a quality that comes with the design. Beyond that, each individual and each site is different, which will actually result in a community that’s quite nuanced and varied.” The Atelier Houses are single-family dwellings and two-story row houses that must have a large exposure to visually dispel the idea of home-as-fortress. Materials include local timber for visual unity and ecological soundness, as well as for an homage to the vernacular. The studio designed both the built-ins and the furniture, which residents have the option to customize.

Kivi worked with architect Greg Lynn, a professor and pioneer of mass customization, at the University of California, Los Angeles, but he takes Lynn’s ideas further. “I’m interested in whether you could use digital design and manufacturing tools that would come at the same price as a prefab house but with a strong architectural idea,” Sotamaa said. He would like to see the digital meld with the architectural more seamlessly; the houses are designed to facilitate this transition and anticipate future synergies. The assembly process is structured so that little machinery is needed on-site for construction and assembly, which cuts costs and reduces damage to the surrounding landscape. The community will be networked via fiber-optic cables to enhance connectivity to neighboring dwellings and the world outside.

The prototype home was completed in 2015, while construction on the first of the Atelier Houses is expected to begin this fall. Ateljé Sotamaa anticipates that developments in digital design and manufacturing will parallel hypercustomization trends in the music industry. “Technology will allow architects to offer bespoke solutions much more easily. More people will be able to participate in the design in a meaningful way.”

L.A.-based Heyday Partnership bets on a new form of Angeleno housing

Heyday Partnership’s offices are located in a 1908 mercantile structure in Los Angeles’s Arts District that doubles as the storefront for the fictitious Paddy’s Pub in the television show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. There, at the end of a long hallway tucked behind the recognizable building, brothers Kevin and Hardy Wronske spend their days designing homes in a post-industrial, daylit hangar filled with study models and custom-made furniture.

Their firm, founded in 2001, has quietly churned out projects across Los Angeles that exploit the city’s “small-lot subdivision” ordinance, a tweak to the zoning code made in 2005 allowing existing single family lots to be subdivided into smaller parcels, developed, and then sold off as traditional, freestanding homes. Small lot homes are helping to fill in L.A.’s “missing middle” housing by packing many residential units onto infill lots in some of the city’s most desirable neighborhoods. The small lot arrangement, however, considered too timid by die-hard urbanists and a complete affront to neighborhood character by suburban-leaning luddites, has struggled with unpopularity among the media and general population since its inception. As a younger, open-minded cadre of thoughtful designers like Heyday begin to emphasize the architectural potential of this real estate model, will a new form of vernacular Angeleno housing take root?

Heyday’s business model is betting on it. It’s actually pretty simple: Kevin, a licensed architect trained at the Southern California Institute of Architecture and Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, and his team design the houses while Hardy, a graduate of University of Southern California Price’s Dollinger Master of Real Estate Development, acts as developer and manages the construction of each project. The brothers have a revolving fund set up that pumps money from recently completed projects into new endeavors, creating a closed loop of design, development, and construction.

Projects like the firm’s Auburn and Rennie homes, two recently completed developments, are typical of Heyday’s body of work in that they operate comfortably at the intersection of L.A.’s zoning code and high design, shaped alike by mundane setbacks and delineated by obviously modernist tropes. Further, these projects, sleek as they might appear, are actually totally by-the-book explorations of what is allowed by the zoning code and are expressly pursued by Heyday without requiring controversial spot-zoning or variances.

Rennie Venice, CA

Heyday’s Rennie is located in Venice, where ambient oceanside temperatures make outdoor living easier than in other inland parts of L.A. Heyday’s goal was to accomplish the added density without sacrificing the traditionally Californian indoor, outdoor living arrangement. “We wanted the house to feel like a typical home with pieces carved out to literally bring in the outside. The large balcony is wrapped in the exterior cladding with a large cutout that looks like it’d be a window opening but is actually just open air.” For these units, a giant glass door connects the living room to the sunken courtyard.

Buzz Court Los Angeles, CA

Buzz Court, HeyDay’s 2012 six-home, four unique floor plan complex was the first small lot development to win an American Institute of Architects award. Each home, approximately 1,600 square feet with three bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms, has LEED Platinum rating and features a six-turn interior-driving path linking the homes along the ground level. Kevin describes the project as being “rooted in figuring out how to have double loaded parking on a site only wide enough for single loaded parking. The solution was to rotate the garages so the backup space could overlap and then connect all the units with a serpentine driveway.” A secondary result of this arrangement is an increase in the number of exterior walls being available for day-lighting and ventilation so that units have windows on three sides instead of two, as would traditionally be the case on such a tight urban lot.

Auburn Los Angeles, CA

The firm’s most recently completed project, Auburn, is a six-home complex featuring three floor plan types, each with 1,650 square feet. Located up the street from Buzz Court, this project is on a through lot with entrances to the complex at either end of the long, narrow driveway connecting the patch of hillside. Kevin described the project, where he is a resident himself, as “a multi-family project wearing a single family facade. It is very L.A.—the city absolutely needs more housing and density but doesn’t want to admit to itself that the suburban dream has to evolve.” Units feature garage-level guest rooms and utilize Spanish tile accents to mark chamfered window surrounds along otherwise white stucco walls.

Everlee Los Angeles, CA

Everlee, currently under construction, utilizes a central, straight run driveway to fulfill parking requirements. Heyday organized seven units orthogonally on either side of the driveway, allowing buildings on the ends to shift in geometry as they meet the more steeply angled street-edge. Expected to be completed this fall, Everlee is intended to be a family-oriented development. “I recently read that Eagle Rock is where Silver Lake hipsters move to when they have babies. While it obviously isn’t that simple, these homes are in a good school district so they’re designed with families in mind,” said Hardy. Heyday designed closets and vaulted ceilings above bathrooms as “lofted nooks and crannies to use as storage space or fort building.” The units also all have patio areas, with several containing as much as 300 square feet of outdoor space to supplement the tight site’s lack of backyards.

ODA reimagines a 1900 Brooklyn factory as a modern apartment complex that nods to the area’s industrial past

The windows were broken and the steel trusses rusty by spring 2013 when architect Eran Chen got his first look inside the 1900 redbrick factory that had long stood vacant in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn. The concrete floors were dingy after decades during which the three-story structure had served as a manufacturing plant for heavy metalworking machines, household cutlery, and patterned plate glass.

Still, to Chen, founder of the New York City–based ODA (Office for Design & Architecture), which had just been tapped to help turn the 87,000-square-foot building at 51 Jay Street into a high-end residential condominium, there was a powerful authenticity to the early 20th-century structure. It spoke of a time when cargo ships still pulled up to the then-industrial enclave on the East River and railway cars rumbled about on tracks embedded in the cobblestone streets to and from factories.

The enormous skylight on the shed-like top floor called to mind the great, glorious train stations of that era, filtered with a light that Chen described as magical. He and his team of architects and designers sought to evoke the romance, if not the reality, of that bygone age in the 74-unit complex they were tasked with designing.

Figuring out how to tuck those residences into the shell of the historic structure took some finesse. ODA has considerable experience with adaptive reuse, and, as Chen knows first-hand, combining an old building and a new function is often “like mixing oil and water.” In this case the building falls within the Dumbo landmark district, so the brick perimeter walls had to be preserved, as did the large openings for the casement windows. Four new floors were built after the interior was hollowed out to accommodate an additional two stories. As a result, the floor plates were shifted, causing window heights and configurations to vary from floor to floor, and even from apartment to apartment on some floors. Nearly two thirds of the units will face the street through these windows. The rest will front a newly enlarged interior courtyard planted with a mini forest of birch trees. Atop the building will be a two-level addition, set back from the original brick structure and not visible from the street; it will contain seven penthouses, six of which are topped with large skylights inspired by the building’s original glass-paned roof.

All of the units—from a 3,000 odd square-foot penthouse, 664-square-foot studio, or the multiple sizes on offer in between—will have clean, modern layouts. Kitchens will open onto wide living rooms, some with double-height ceilings. The main living area in each apartment will have an expansive, loft-like feel.

The units’ airiness is balanced by a range of richly textured finishes and dark, substantial-looking cabinetry. To develop their materials palette, the designers researched what was considered luxury when the factory was built, and then came up with modern interpretations for 51 Jay.

Take the handsome herringbone-patterned oak floors in the living room, for example. The architects learned that herringbone floors were popular in high-end apartments at the turn of the 20th century. But instead of using four- to six-inch wood strips, as would have been done then, the architects opted for 8- and 24-inch oak strips, which, Chen explained, are more akin to the wide-plank floors found in old industrial warehouses; the wood was smoked and wire-brushed for an aged effect.

The architects also discovered that French cabinetmaking was fashionable in New York in the 1900s. The cabinets often received three coats of paint, and were then sanded at the corners to expose the underlying wood. The paneled cherry kitchen cabinets of 51 Jay will be similarly patinaed, the dark stain rubbed away at the corners to reveal the ruddiness of the wood underneath. Some of the cabinet doors will be faced with corrugated glass—more industrial-looking than traditional clear glass—a material that might well have been made in the building during the years it was a glass factory.

The same corrugated glass will appear in the master baths and will front the doors and dark-brown lacquered vanities. Copper trim will edge the vanities and medicine cabinets above—an unusual accent for a bath, but, like the corrugated glass, a material that appealed to the architects in part because it had once been produced in the building. Also unusual is the walnut-colored honed marble chosen for the floor, tub front, and vanity counter.

While many of the same materials will be used in the powder rooms, the so-called “secondary” bathrooms, which are to be found in the larger units, will have a decidedly lighter, more casual look, with whitewashed oak vanities and recessed medicine cabinets.

An avalanche of amenities are being added, including a rooftop terrace tricked out with a kitchen, fireplace, and outdoor shower. In the basement will be what has become the latest must-have for luxury residential developments: a pet washing and grooming station.

5-OH Rising Out of Park Fifth’s Ashes in Los Angeles

At long last, the recession-doomed site of the high-rise condo complex known as Park Fifth is seeing some action. This particular patch of ground, across the street from Pershing Square near downtown Los Angeles, has been the subject of a tug-of-war between would-be investors and market forces for at least seven years. Park Fifth, a pair of 76- and 41-story towers designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, went down with the real estate bubble in 2008. Even the current project, dubbed 5-OH, has seen a lot of uncertainty during its relatively short life. “We went through a lot of studies and a lot of different client groups,” said Harley Ellis Devereaux’s Daniel Gehman. “[There were] a lot of shifting sands.” Today things look more certain. MacFarlane Partners bought the site in October of last year, and are moving ahead with a pair of residential towers Gehman estimates will cost (very roughly) $260 million. 5-OH has already cruised through its zoning administrator hearing. If all goes well, construction crews will break ground in early 2015. Though smaller than Park Fifth would have been, 5-OH’s 615 residential units—split between a 24-story high-rise and its seven-story companion—dwarf what earlier plans envisioned. Several previous clients “tried to get it approved as a seven-story building, [but] it became evident in working with the council office that that wasn’t going to fly,” said Gehman. Harley Ellis Deveraux looked at the site and found that “there was a very evident place to put a tower.” From there, said Gehman, the high-rise practically planned itself, with the space in back reserved for the smaller building. In terms of aesthetics, the architects had two options. They could design a contemporary complex within the strict parameters of downtown design guidelines. Or they could draw on the existing historic building stock for inspiration. “We decided to be as contextual as possible,” Gehman explained. “We wanted the buildings to feel like they’re playing nice with their neighbors rather than getting into their face.” On its street sides, the mid-rise is clad in cement-fiber and metal panels. In the courtyards, the architects opted for plaster and other traditional residential materials. The courtyard balconies’ metal railings mimic the fire escapes of the older buildings nearby. The 24-story tower is much more glassy, but in a way that pays homage to its neighbors, particularly the Title Guarantee Building. “There’s a motif of trying to get the windows to look like they’re recessed in a thicker wall. It’s not a glass box, but glass strategically placed,” said Gehman. The cream-colored panelized metal skin creates “sort of abstracted traditional forms rendered in contemporary materials.” A community room and pool deck on top of the taller structure will provide views of both the historic core and the taller contemporary towers to the west. “One of the reasons I like the site so much is it’s extremely transit-rich,” said Gehman. There are bus stops at every corner, plus the Pershing Square subway stop within a stone’s throw. “It would be very, very easy to reduce auto dependency if you lived on the site,” Gehman concluded.

And To Think That I Saw It In Mulberry House: SHoP’s Geometric Residences Show Off Luxe Interiors

The much-maligned building at 290 Mulberry Street—called Mulberry House—is trying to show that its whats on the inside that counts. SHoP Architects have filled their heavily-critiqued rippling brick residential structure with a bright interior awash in wood, black lacquer, and polished white surfaces. The new development is a conclusive step in a  project that once appeared destined to fall victim to the recent recession. Saddled with zoning regulations that demanded a "predominantly masonry" facade, the New York–based firm responded by designing an undulating brick curtain wall that has drawn decidedly mixed reviews from locals and critics alike. With its controversial exterior in place, the project was beset by economic difficulties that forced the initial developers to sell the property in 2011. Under the guidance of Karass Development the former condos were reimagined as rentals, and SHoP returned to complete their design. Whereas its facade speaks to the 19th century brick buildings that populate Manhattan's Nolita (North of Little Italy) neighborhood, the interior of Mulberry House seems to look across the Atlantic for its inspiration. The luxe materials, color scheme, and geometric patterns scattered throughout the lobby and across the surfaces of furniture all evoke the architecture of the Vienna Secession. If stylistically the space is evocative of the stylistic innovations of Josef Hoffman and Otto Wagner among others, the building is well-equipped with modern amenities like private keyed elevators, radiant-heat walnut flooring, and over-sized windows.