LocationBoston, United States
Architect in ChargeManuela Mariani
CollaboratorDavid Potts, Sirietta Simoncini, Paul Viliott
Structural EngineerArmando Plata
Text description provided by the architects. Renovation of an 1880 Boston house in the neighborhood of Jamaica Plain, one of the first “streetcar suburbs" in the US. The design preserves historical aspects of house, such as exposed wood ceilings, select plaster walls, the slate roof, and wood floors, while adding new elements, including a large open living area and kitchen, library, top floor dormer, bathrooms, vertical addition to side, and decks. The renovation reveals early building elements as it adds a layer of contemporary material assemblies and new ways of using domestic space. The project opens up a typical New England enclosed envelope to increase the relationship of inside and outside, stretching out a new skin that angles at each level to playfully engage with the surroundings.
The interplay between old and new continues from outside to inside, at certain vantage points presenting what seems to be a nineteenth-century house, and at others, a contemporary one. The redesign features both expansive, light-filled open spaces, such as the kitchen and living area, the library, and the top floor, as well as more intimate ones, such as the study, bedrooms, and dining room.
The top floor deck has views of the surrounding neighborhood and downtown Boston.
The dormer, with operable windows at the highest point of the house, efficiently ventilates hot air in the summer. Thanks to extensive insulation, strategic placement of new windows, and the presence of existing deciduous locust trees, no air conditioning is needed in the summer, and heating is helped by passive solar gain in the winter.
Numerous existing materials from the house and site were reused, such as hundreds of old cobblestones found in the backyard for new landscaping. Puddingstone reclaimed from the foundation and site was employed in the gabion terraces.
Original floorboards and sheathing boards reused as shelves and trim add to the interplay of the old and new in the library shelving system.
Carpenter Ralph Daniels built the kitchen cabinets, and two welding companies, Southeast Welding and Weld-Right, fabricated the steel stairs, handrails, railings, beam-post connectors, and portions of the rear deck, which has a galvanized grating floor.