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Thin Flats / Onion Flats

  • Architects: Onion Flats
  • Location: Philadelphia, PA, USA
  • Architect: Onion Flats (Plumbob Llc)
  • Project Team: Tim McDonald, Howard Steinberg, Jim Sanderson
  • Structural Engineer: Associated Engineering Consultants Inc.
  • Owner / Developer: Onion Flats
  • General Contractor: JIG Inc (Project Manager Kurt Schlenbaker)
  • Leed Rater: Magrann Associates (Sam Klein)
  • Project Year: 2009
  • Photographs: Mariko Reed, Tim McDonald, Sam Oberter

© Mariko Reed © Tim McDonald © Mariko Reed © Mariko Reed

From the architect. This eight unit residential project explores the highly efficient and architecturally latent potentials hidden within the traditional form of the Philadelphia “Row” home. The vertical rhythm, regularity yet diversity of this most prevalent residential urban typology was the primary source of inspiration for this experiment. Thin faces fronting both Laurel and Pollard Streets mask and blur conventional lines of demarcation between all eight duplex dwellings both vertically and horizontally. In the process, a degree of density yet expansiveness uncommon to the thin space of the urban duplex emerges. The Philadelphia “Row” is by nature a long, thin slice of dense, sustainable, urban space, typically ‘light-deficient’ and insular at its core. Thin Flats questions this traditional ‘deficiency’ by spatially reconfiguring the relationship between the interior and it’s skin such that its ‘core’ is flooded with light and air. This skin also affords each room on the ‘periphery’ of the dwelling the ability to step outside, and yet remain within the skin. This project also is unique by being the first LEED-H Platinum duplex residences in the USA.

© Mariko Reed
© Mariko Reed

The façade of Thin Flats is at once a surface and a void, blurring the limits of the units within. The façade of the lower units is pushed back from the sidewalk to accommodate circulation, flood a ‘basement’ space with light, aid in solar shading and create a veil from public view. Balconies on upper floors recess from behind the surface of the veil to create opportunities for civic engagement within the thin space of the façade.

© Mariko Reed
© Mariko Reed

-Third Party verification that each unit is a minimum 50% more energy efficient in cooling, and domestic hot water energy usage than required by code

© Sam Oberter
© Sam Oberter

-Solar Thermal panels to provide domestic hot water needs

-Planted ‘green’ roofs to decrease thermal heat gain, prolong roof life, assist in storm water management, and provide planted and habitable rooftop gardens with views of center city

© Tim McDonald
© Tim McDonald

-Rainwater harvesting cisterns beneath parking area for irrigation of yards / gardens

-Each unit includes a detailed Home Owner’s Manual outlining the specific features and systems that are offered in the home that make it a LEED Platinum project.

© Tim McDonald
© Tim McDonald

-Low flow faucets and fixtures reduce water consumption by 50%

-Concrete containing a minimum of 25% recycled fl y ash content

-Double pane, low E, argon filled, thermally broken, aluminum clad wood windows and doors

-Home automation technology by Colorado vNet – centralized and programmable lighting, heating, cooling, security, and audio/video entertainment system to maximize convenience and minimize energy use

-Grade 1 insulation package including foam sealing of all joints to minimize air infiltration and closed cell spray-in foam insulation in exterior walls

© Sam Oberter
© Sam Oberter

-Maximum use of sustainable framing materials

-Maximum use of locally sourced / manufactured materials

-Hydronic radiant in-floor heating system

-HVAC system designed to ACCA Manual recommendations

-HRV(Heat Recovery Ventilation) system

-Insulated hot water supply pipes

-Low or no VOC (volatile organic compounds) emitting paints, adhesives, and sealants

-Located within one block of public transportation

-Electric car charging port with fully electric car optional

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Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address. Cite:"Thin Flats / Onion Flats" 08 Apr 2011. ArchDaily. Accesed . <http://www.archdaily.com/123731/thin-flats-onion-flats/>