Chiao’s 800-square-foot loft is located in an old textile factory that’s been renovated into live-work spaces. The space has exposed brick walls and large floor-to-ceiling windows that flood the loft with light. Chiao wanted to maintain the openness of the space, so she conceived of the idea of houses within a house. Drawing inspiration from Atelier Bow-Wow, a Japanese architecture firm known for their tiny houses, and the time she spent as a child in the mountains of North Georgia and Tennessee, she designed a pitched roof cabin and an elevated treehouse. The structures, unlike floor-to-ceiling-walls, keep the space open and still allow the natural light to fill the loft.
The cabin, where Chiao sleeps, is an 88-square-feet structure made out of luan plywood and standard lumber. Her roommate occupies the 100-square-foot treehouse that rises 6 feet off the ground to accommodate a desk and storage underneath. Both houses are each their own private sleeping quarters, and they each have a semi-private “garden” off of the shared living space. On her website, Chiao writes, “As a result, living in the space can feel like living outdoors, in a small community of two houses.” Both houses have large entrances and windows that look out on the rest of the apartment and out the real windows down the street.
“I like feeling connected to the weather, and, in this space, the sun and the sky can be experienced directly at all times through the big windows—so sometimes it does feel a little bit like I’m living outdoors,” Chiao said to ReadyMade. “Maybe as close as I can get to doing that comfortably in New York City, anyway.”