Submitted by: addy madorsky
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A retired investment banker purchased a landmarked duplex apartment in the Flatiron district of New York City to live with his daughter, son-in-law, and two grand children (age 4 & 2). He is an active 70 year old, and enjoys cooking, throwing dinner parties, and collecting indigenous European art. His daughter works from home 4 days a week, and the son-in-law is a biology teacher. They need a space that is both luxurious and sustainable, which provides privacy with proximity. The more private spaces are located the 5th floor, while the 6th floor is a communal entertainment and gathering space for the family and their friends.
INSPIRATION: Ancient yet Modern
This project has multiple connections between ancient and modern, the ‘old’ and the ‘new’. First of all, there are multiple generations, both and young and old, coming together to live under one roof. The grandfather collects pre-Roman European art which is both primitive and modern, with its abstract geometric forms and earthy materiality. Additionally, many of the ideas of sustainable design, from harvesting sunlight to radiant heat floors, originated in ancient building traditions. Even the penthouse level is a new structure being built on an old landmarked building.
The ideas of the new overlapping while building on the old, and the three generations coming together as a family unit are expressed by the three large forms of the new penthouse level, as well as the cabinetry details throughout. These forms are also evocative of the stepped roofs of the Neolithic dwellings of Çatal Höyük.
Maximizing and controlling daylight, a key feature of both sustainable design and ancient building methods, informs the shape and position of the roof and openings. The deep overhangs of the roof on the south and west faces shade the sun and limit solar gain in the summer months, while allowing direct light in the winter. Deep overhangs are also found on the penthouse clearstory level, which is positioned on a portion of the roof that receives the most direct sunlight. These clearstory windows are operable, allowing for additional airflow through the space. To display the grandfather’s collection of ceramics, natural light can be controlled with the adjustable louver system in the skylight of his double height study. A large custom atrium sun pipe brings light into the core of the lower level, situated over the family breakfast table. This sun pipe is evocative of ancient woven basketry, and becomes a decorative feature as it passes through the penthouse level. This basketry motif, scaled down, is also used in the kitchen range ventilation.
Ancient sustainable methods are also used in the radiant heat floors, ventilation, envelope insulation, water collection, gardening, and use of local materials. A key ‘ancient yet modern’ material in the project is the poured terrazzo floor with recycled content and plaster walls, as well as FSC certified local walnut woods.
Even though the grandfather is completely mobile, his suite is handicapped accessbile. Since the all the kitchenette components on the 5th floor are wall mounted, it can be altered to accomodate a wheelchair if necessary. In the main penthouse kitchen, there are mutliple height work surfaces so the children can share in the cooking activites.
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