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Small Lot Multi-family House I NYC

Type: Big ideas for Small Lot Competition

Organized by: New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) & American Institute of Architects New York(AIA)

Program: Affordable Housing

Location: 113 West 136th St, New York

budget: -

Area: 1700 sqft

Calendar: Submitted 2019

Role: Re-A.D as design architect


Affordable housing is an opportunity to create mixed neighborhoods. When surrounded by 1 and 2 family residences, the challenge to maximize the affordable housing on narrow lots is to bring in different standards while weaving into the fabric of the surrounding community. To create a place that builds on the neighborhood’s life, habits, and familiar aesthetics, we questioned how the features of the surrounding brownstones and private houses could be reinterpreted. We introduce the idea of equality through the use of symbols, that once shared across different types of income, calls for the same dignity.

Key design features:

We looked at the bay window as a feature populating the prominent brownstones across the city. While not present in the neighboring buildings of the site, the feature is easily recognizable and represents the idea of a greater house. The massing is inspired by those bays and uses them to further break down the massing. We used the symbol of the house, with the pitched roof the way we drew since we were children, to introduce the idea of a building gathering several households encouraged to interact with one another. Symbols and familiar shapes, such as the bay window and the symbol of the house are powerful in that they instantly call out for a sense of ownership. To the future residents, to connect the residents to the community, we looked at the existing social spaces that are the stoops and the parlor floor, the grand social salon that connects the front and the back of the building as a feature that could connect the residents together and with the life of the street. We created a visual corridor that promotes physical movements and provide the opportunity for social interaction with the existing neighborhood. This idea of a ground floor connecting the front and the back of the building can be transferred to many neighborhoods and sites, with the apartment typical layouts above that can be modified to fit 2 thirds of the sites the competition presented. It’s a simple idea that can fit multiple contexts.

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