- Design Team: Stephanie Davidson, Georg Rafailidis
- Engineer Of Record : John Banaszak
- Construction Management: CFR Construction and Restoration
- City: Buffalo
- Country: United States
Text description provided by the architects. He, She & It is a collection of three distinct buildings for three different spatial needs, collaged into a single structure. The 1500 sq ft building houses workspaces for a painter, a ceramist/silversmith, and a greenhouse. Each space offers an atmosphere which differs radically from the others. The distinct atmospheres of the spaces reflect not only their respective uses but also, the predilections of the clients.
He is a painter. His studio is a white box. There are no windows in his workspace; it is exclusively top-lit, offering even and indirect, natural light, and maximizing the wall surface area for painting.
She is a ceramist and a silversmith. Her workspace has dedicated areas for both messy, wet ceramic work and delicate jewelry-making. Her space offers large windows with generous views and dramatic lighting, ranging from dimly-lit areas to very bright desk areas. Her studio is lined entirely with soft, soaped, maple, preserving its intense, raw wood smell.
It (they) consists of seedlings in spring and plants in winter – clients with a very simple wish for maximum light and year-round above-freezing temperatures. The polycarbonate shell is translucent, offering a zone of almost-outdoor space to the two other workspaces, without any direct views.
The spaces are grouped to form a cluster of three mono-pitched sheds. At the surfaces where these distinct sheds connect, the walls are completely removed up to a height of 6’8”. The remaining ridge wall segments above act as structural trusses to span the openings freely, making the structure seem to hover over the open ground floor. Whereas He, She & It appear as independent, materially distinct volumes, structurally and climatically they depend on one another. Folding sliding doors enable the users to either divide the space into three rooms or open the plan entirely – it is in a constant state of redefinition.
The climate conditioning strategy underscores the dynamic spatial experience and the constant redefinition of space. Each space offers a different climatic barrier. The insulated interior sliding-folding doors and exterior operable openings have to be used to adjust the space to different weather conditions. Contrary to common climate control practices that seal the interior space as much as possible from the exterior and use mechanical services to create an artificial indoor climate in summer as in winter, He, She & It adapts spatially to the seasons instead of mechanically. This difference is analogous to a sailboat versus a motorized boat.
Whereas the motorized boat achieves a constant speed and direction through a machine, the sailboat achieves the same through an intimate relationship between weather, wind, sail geometry, and the sailor’s active involvement, changing the overall geometry of the sailboat/sails constantly. On cold and sunny winter days, for example, the sliding folding partition walls are opened up to let the solar gain from the greenhouse contribute heat to the whole building. On cloudy cold winter days and winter nights, the insulated partition walls need to be closed to shrink the overall heated volume. In summer, the continuous ridge vent of the greenhouse is opened-up, transforming the greenhouse into a solar chimney that creates constant draft throughout the building even on stagnant, hot days.
Built with modest, low-cost materials and construction methods, the spatial arrangement offers a complex set of experiences that are rich at the spatial and textural scales; the interior world of the workspaces draws the users in and provides them with a retreat from the outside world. Entry doors are located at the back of the studio, extending the passage as far as possible away from the existing residence facing the street, and emphasizing the distinct nature of the workspace from the residential routine of the front house. The three mono-pitched roofs have large overhangs to shed stormwater far away from the building and nurture three rain gardens that act also as visual screens, isolating the building even more from the front house.