Text description provided by the architects. Located in Manhattan's Meatpacking District, this 1300-square-foot townhouse was converted from a studio on the third floor to a triplex, combined with the adjoining duplex below.
In the renovation of this 12-foot-wide townhouse, our guiding principle was to improve the quality of light and air flowing throughout, to create an expansive feeling in an otherwise small and narrow space. The primary architectural challenges were to find a way to open up the house to allow light to pass through from the sky to the ground level, to move up and down without cutting up the living quarters, and to eliminate the triplex feeling and to engage the cellar and undo the underground quality of its space. To do so, we needed to design a staircase that would introduce light midway in the structure and engage the living spaces it intersects.
This triplex townhouse consists of a garden-level living room, a master bedroom suite on the third floor, and a kitchen and dining area on the entry level. In order to create the feeling of a connected space in a multi-level townhouse, we designed a new, open staircase system that eases the transition between movement and rest. Given the 12' width of building, our solution was a series of steps that cantilever from the wall and float towards the center of the space, allowing light to filter through the risers. The entry level and cellar were cut back from both sides of the garden wall, allowing for a double-story space that meets at a midway point. This solution reduces the feeling of the cellar's position underground, and also mediates the transition between the middle and lower levels.
An angled skylight was added to the front portion of the third floor, which reveals a view of the trees hanging over the townhouse, frames the master bedroom suite from above, and also redirects and filters light down to the lower levels. Meeting with the natural light emanating from the all-glass facade in the rear, the townhouse also opens up into a garden, which connects nature and 'stretches from earth to the sky,' as written by Gaston Bachelard in The Poetics of Space.