Having a passion for reimaging New York townhouses, de-spec identified the challenge of renovating a triplex as finding a way to integrate the stairs. Not taking up the entire width of a narrow house and minimizing the feeling of constantly having to run up and down to connect floors, we transformed the stairs and steps into a fluid space that combines transition and rest. Flooded with natural light from the back and above, the twelve-foot-wide townhouse consists of a cellar living room, a bedroom suite on the upper floor, and a kitchen and dining area on the entry level. The ground plane folds into a private garden through steps and a full-window wall, effectively extended the garden into the living room.
The Architectural strategy was to open up the townhouse to light from the sky, and to connect with the garden both from entry level and cellar living room. To achieve this, the entry level floor was cut back and the garden wall was cut down, allowing for a double story space to meet at a midway point and to reduce the feel of the cellar’s position underground and mediate the transition between the middle and lower levels. Since this townhouse has one wall of windows and access to light, in order to get natural light to the back of the space, we chose an open staircase that climbs and connects the three levels of living room, garden, kitchen and dining room and master bedroom suite overlapped with an angled skylight on the third floor, which redirects and filters light through to the lower levels and in the back. With an all-glass facade in the rear, this town house opens up into a garden which connects nature and ‘stretches from earth to the sky’ as written by Gaston Bachelard in the Poetics of space.
The guiding principal for design of a small space is that if the quality of light and air is improved, if all of life’s things have a place, small spaces and in this case 12’ wide townhouse will feel right and perhaps more space is not needed. In New York City, and in the coveted Meat Packing district, every inch is accounted for. But beyond the monetary value, a home is carved from years of neglect, brick, block, paint and dirt that fits the dreamer who looks to his house as a place to dream.
Credits: - Structural Engineer: Daniel Connolly, Connolly Engineering - Photography: Frank Oudeman