Location: New York
Status: Competition proposal: Big Ideas for Small Lots
Area: 4,500 SF
The future of housing in New York City is not how efficiently we can fit people into small spaces. Rather, it is our ability to design affordable housing in such a way that it can accommodate the city’s inherent diversity and support its growth going forward. Residents come in all shapes and sizes: single occupants, students, young couples, families, and roommates are just a subset of occupant types that make up the fabric of this city, and it’s imperative that we design buildings that not only welcome this diversity, but are configured to support and express it as well.
With this in mind, Transformer pushes back against the narrow constraints of the building site, creating a dynamic and spacious architecture configured through a system of interlocking apartments: (2) studio apartments, (1) two bedroom duplex and (2) one bedroom duplexes, with the intent that that unit diversity gives developers options. Buildings do not have to be all micro units, studios or one or two bedrooms. They can be a checkerboard of many, a reflection of the city itself.
One of the poor spatial characteristics of narrow lots is the experiential quality of long, thin, dark spaces, book-ended by natural exposure. Our proposal, in a move that may initially be considered counter-intuitive, or redundant, places an additional set of stairs in the apartments facing the rear yard, thus creating stacked one bedrooms, or two bedroom units that, while losing some square footage, occupy a more efficient footprint, and who’s spaces share greater proximity and adjacency to natural light, as well as each other. The typical floor through hallway is thus replaced by the stair that looks out a window.
This proposal condenses the core in order to maximize usable residential square footage while allowing for dynamic spatial consequences that change the very way we define affordable living. The quality and amount of light produced by the duplex unit, and the specifics of the building section, also transforms the way we typically consider narrow lots.