Elle Decor magazine features TorZo Blue Stain Pine in Brooklyn Triplex
A BROOKLYN TRIPLEX IS TRANSFORMED INTO A LIGHT-FILLED HAVEN
Read the full story – Elle Decor magazine features TorZo Blue Stain Pine in Brooklyn Triplex
Architects Amale Andraos and Dan Wood of WORKac bring bright interiors into a factory turned condominium.
There is perhaps no better example of the evolution of Brooklyn’s appeal to once die-hard Manhattanites than this tale of a family’s journey from TriBeCa to Boerum Hill. It was 2001 and the couple, a French public-relations executive and a Georgian (as in the Republic of) building contractor, and their two children were renting a two-bedroom walk-up. They were eager to buy a place and couldn’t afford Manhattan prices. As they watched their close friends move across the East River, their gaze shifted, too. Their hearts took a little longer to follow.
“I always said, ‘If I go to Brooklyn, I may as well move back to Paris,’” quips the wife, who eventually caved when the pair found a 2,300-square-foot duplex in a former factory turned condominium, complete with a garden.
Fast-forward to 2015. The couple, soon to be empty nesters, were looking, however counterintuitively, for a larger place. They considered Manhattan, but ended up purchasing an apartment one floor above them. “We wanted to stay in Brooklyn,” she explains, fully aware of the irony.
Combining their duplex with the new apartment proved nearly as arduous an undertaking as their initial travels across the river. For one thing, the new space did not line up with the preexisting staircase. The duo turned to Amale Andraos and Dan Wood, cofounders and partners (in life, too) of the New York architecture firm WORKac. Andraos and Wood started their practice in 2003 after working for Rem Koolhaas at OMA in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and New York. They have since become known for their vibrant and sustainable approach to both residential and institutional spaces for clients such as Diane von Furstenberg, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Guggenheim.
“We take playfulness very seriously,” says Andraos, who is also the dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. “Our first thought here was, How do we highlight the relationship between the architecture and the landscape outside?”
Andraos and Wood began by gutting all three floors and seeking out ways to maximize light and space. In the duplex’s former life, the ground floor (through which you enter) had housed the kitchen, the living areas, and the kids’ two bedrooms, while the cellar level held the master bedroom, a half bathroom, and a small closet. Andraos and Wood moved the kids’ bedrooms up to the new third floor and carved out more space at the cellar level for a full bathroom and a closet the wife describes as “like the storage of a store.” On the main level, they rerouted a pipe near the old kitchen, allowing them to create an open loft plan. They added a couple of feet to the ceiling and had it recess up near the windows, which they enlarged, emphasizing the natural light and views of the backyard garden.
Arguably the most challenging decision was how and where to design stairs connecting all three divergently configured floors. Working “down to millimeters,” as Wood puts it, they slotted them near the entrance to the apartment and sculpted an airy, curving structure out of white perforated steel that contrasts beautifully with the black stained–oak floors. “It’s about transparency and openness,” he explains. He and Andraos used varied wall textures to differentiate areas through the open floor, while also nodding to natural motifs and surfaces. A Timorous Beasties floral wallpaper hangs near the entrance and study, and blue stained–pine planks sheath the walls by the dining area and kitchen. A rough brick wall, discovered during construction, grounds the living room and its blackened-steel fireplace.
The result marries warmth and brightness with sharp, graphic lines. The expansiveness is perfect for the entertaining needs of adult socializing—and its sparkling appeal has been just as alluring to the couple’s grown children, now 19 and 22. “They love it. And they like having their friends come over and go, ‘Wow!’” the wife says, noting the delay this may cause in their empty-nest status. “I’m sure we’re going to have them with us for a little while longer.”
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