The layout of New York City apartments is often the result of serial conversions over time. Grand pre-war apartments are chopped into smaller unrecognizable units and often the changes many buildings go through leaves any original sense or logic stripped from apartments found on the market today.
PLAN often encounters spaces that no longer conform to the lifestyles of modern dwellers. We find opportunities in both the spaces and the new owner’s lifestyle for truly transforming an old apartment.
PLAN found a unique solution for a 550 square foot railroad apartment in Brooklyn. The search identified all the difficulties with the space and transformed them one by one to advantages. The result is a unique hotel-like gem in an urban setting.
There were several key challenges with this project:
· Kitchen was in the rear of the apartment and the bedroom was part of the circulation.
· The long corridor consumed width and valuable space.
· Privacy was not possible in the existing layout.
· Space was chopped up into many small rooms.
· Existing material condition of the apartment was poor.
The following is what we have achieved:
· In the tight plan of a railroad apartment, we successfully turned this disadvantage into a feature by redefining the spatial categories. A one bedroom apartment is composed of living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. In this project, the new composition is “living room + kitchen” along with “bathroom + bedroom”. In the process of combination, we enhance the bond of the spaces without losing a reasonable division and make all spaces seem larger.
· Lifestyles must be examined during design and we often take reference from the past. By taking a corridor and absorbing it into the bathroom, PLAN created a dressing room that is often lost in today’s small apartments. It is a place to organize your outfit the night before and an unhurried room to dress in the morning --- the corridor becomes a room.
· In deference to the past, all doors between rooms are aligned in the classic manner. From the living room, the entire length of the apartment is visible.
We also achieved the following:
· In the most unusual aspect of the solution, we opened up the bathroom and placed the bathtub in the bedroom. Bathing can now happen in a proper room with a view beyond, rather than in a tight, cramped space.
· Rather than fuss with imperfections in old plaster walls, PLAN accepted them as part of the history and uniqueness of a City apartment, and with simple well placed detailing combined new and old parts into a contemporary whole.
Contemporary and classical styles may be two extremes, but in this project, PLAN found the fine line between that put dwellers in a luxurious hotel-like space in the heart of a great borough.