Gowanus-based firm Office of Architecture recently completed their conversion of a run-down row house in Brooklyn's South Slope into a beautiful contemporary home designed to last a lifetime. Taking into account the century-old structure's potential for long-term sustainability, architect Aniket Shahane worked with the owners to create a flexible space that could adapt to the couple's future needs as parents and then as empty-nesters.
The home, which hadn’t been upgraded since the 1950s, was a two-story, 15-foot-wide structure in fairly bad condition. Working with the owners, Shahane decided to completely gut the structure to make way for an ultra durable renovation that would last the couple throughout their lifetime.
“The main thing that makes this project sustainable is that it’s designed with the long term in mind,” Shahane said. “Staying in a place for a long time and handing it off to future generations is the larger meaning of sustainability — not using things temporarily and then discarding them. Architects have a responsibility to design in such a way as to encourage people to do that.”
Shahane’s strategy was to expand the narrow structure at the back and at the top, giving the owners a full two-bedroom and two-bath duplex with an additional one-bedroom apartment that could be used as a rental. The one bedroom rental is at the front of the upper floor and is designed to either be part of the living space or completely separated from the home’s communal areas. This way, if the family expands, they won’t need to go through another long renovation process to create more room. Additionally, when and if they become empty-nesters down the road, they can, once again, close off that space to rent for some extra income.
Unlike most of the glossy home renovations seen today, the interior design scheme on this project shunned high-end features and finishes for more practical items such as an IKEA kitchen. The architect explained that this decision was also based in practicality. “It’s about what it means to live in New York now, and what you need to do to hold onto a house for a long period of time.
Photos by Ben Anderson