This project rehabilitates a South Austin Cottage through a contemporary lens. The interior of the house will be a complete gut renovation while the exterior framing will remain largely intact.
Situated on the West Side Highway in New York City, this mixed-use development challenges the existing sociopolitical hierarchies of the built environment by suggesting a new building typology that reallocates privileged vertical space reserved for the elite, to the general public.
This allows for diverse social connections and programmatic adjacencies which aim to enhance the livelihood and lifestyle of the residents, the surrounding community, and the city at large. These adjacencies mix constituencies and create intersections that might not otherwise occur, fostering social and economic development. The distance between the elite and the general public is collapsed, allowing for diverse interactions in new environments.
New York is a vibrant, diverse city characterized by financial prosperity, but soaring housing costs have priced out many of its residents. Low-income inhabitants of the city’s public housing face particular hardships: their population has grown, poverty has worsened, and social isolation has grown more pronounced while their physical environments have changed little due to a reduction in public housing funds. This has created a situation of economic and social isolation; “the poor in New York have become a self-perpetuating parallel city.” In an attempt to alleviate these conditions, the New York City Housing Authority pursues the economic integration of public housing projects into their communities as a means of fostering social stability and increased incomes.
This immense problem is of particular interest to this proposal because the site is located a block east from a public housing project. The design aims, therefore, to provide amenities which might enhance the social and economic development of its inhabitants: a tower of parks anchors the housing block, connecting private housing and public programming (civic and cultural) while maintaining secure boundaries.
These public parks create opportunities for diverse connections between constituencies, programs, and environments which typically do not occur.
Living in the high-energy, dense urban environment of Manhattan can be grueling, both physically and mentally, over time. Therefore, many city residents often retreat from the city on weekends to second homes that are located in more natural settings. This is a luxury not everyone can afford, but suggests the necessity of an environment which allows inhabitants to escape from rigors of the city. The site’s location on the Highline in Chelsea enhances the opportunity for the project to establish a new relationship to nature.
The design proposes a mixture of program layered in a manner which responds to the scale of the city, neighborhood, and block: Its robust, contemporary street façade provides a strong urban presence in the city while neutralizing climatic variances; this facade gives way to a traditional courtyard façade which allows the dynamic play of sun and wind to act naturally on the housing units.
These two environments provide inhabitants the ability to retreat from the tough urban landscape of New York City each time they enter the block. The living units are designed to provide natural ventilation and flexibly accommodate live work situations and future renovations.
The client desired an economic barn-style house for a 7,000 acre ranch. He is a major league baseball pitcher who will only live and train at the location during the off-season; therefore, minimal investment for the living quarters was demanded—the value lay in the land.
In order to achieve the space and program requirements for this ranch-style training facility and house, a pre-fabricated metal building package was ordered which included 11 standard sized windows and two garage doors. The prefab building, typically used for industrial warehouses and sheds provides enclosure for living, barn, and training spaces at minimum expense. Two additional garage doors were added: when opened they provide expansive views out to the landscape, embracing the expansive Southeast Texas landscape—they bring light and long views throughout the building's simple yet dynamic spaces.. When closed they protect against the hot texas sun and provide security to the building when unoccupied.
The metal building is transformed from its traditional industrial typology to an intertwined living/training space which sits in the landscape as an art object.
The stairs and patios become the playful connective tissue which weave through the building and bind the spaces together.
This house weaves green building and contemporary design into the context of its Austin, Texas neighborhood -- on a budget.
It was conceived as a framing system for the lives of those within, using a variety of implicit framing devices at different scales to create subtly distinct moments that can be experienced separately or simultaneously.
The clients, a young professional couple with a baby, were most interested in an open, flexible home in which to start their family and a new phase in life. They love to be surrounded by mementos of their life together; cards, gifts, art objects, and books filled every available surface in their old apartment.
The house holds and displays records of the lives within it through a continuous shelving system which simultaneously shapes larger spaces into zones for living. In this way the house serves as an archive, enriching one’s experience of everyday life and its intimate moments with personalized framed settings. Because one is always moving through these not-completely defined spaces, one’s understanding of the house is layered with a variety of impressions that may evolve from day to day and throughout the years spent here.
At the exterior, a metallic fascia runs along the edges of the floors and roof, clearly outlining the planes that horizontally frame the inhabitable space of the house. These planes break from one another to define major zones of the house: the primary entry, main living level, and major public/private spaces.
The facade materials also serve to create distinct zones even before one enters the house. The outermost walls are standing seam metal, reading like a hard exterior shell through which warm cedar-framed windows are extruded for shading purposes. The north and south facades, recessed within deep overhangs, are yellow pine, setting the tone for a softer, more intimate atmosphere on the front and back porches.
These framing devices define thresholds as open moments of transition from one type of environment to another. Spaces are not finite; slipping, indirect connections allow movement from one to another. This strategy holds one’s focus foregrounded in the immediate surroundings but simultaneously aware of their greater context.
Interested in keeping the material palette simple yet dynamic, we custom-built many details into the house. This allowed us to make the most of each piece and the conservative square footage.
Every countertop is custom-poured concrete. We designed integral sinks into the bathroom counters, which read as a singular weighty objects that offer contrast to the lighter wood elsewhere.
In the master bathroom, polycarbonate boxes serve as open medicine cabinets, letting light flow through the bathroom even into the secluded toilet room.