The property, located in the neighborhood of Belmont, in the Boston metropolitan area, is a house built in 1921 in very good condition.
The house is very compact, about 1500sft, arranged in two floors. A central chimney organizes rooms on both sides as many of the houses of this period did.
The spatial quality is clearly defined by the location of the chimney. All the rooms have clear limits, and transitions between them.
The owners, a young couple of professional scientists were blessed with the addition of twins, which all of a sudden resulted in clear needs of space.
Given the tight real estate market that a city like Boston has, the owners wanted to evaluate the possibility of expanding within the house that they own.
There was an initial masterplan that looked at a maximized plan of expansion, which included the basement level and extensions in the second floor over existing protruding volumes of the lower level.
The first phase of the expansion was the basement. Its footprint provided a substantial amount of area that could accommodate some of the services, a bathroom and a room that could work as play room and guest space for visiting parents.
The existing conditions were guided mostly by the location of the chimney. The services of the house were randomly placed in the most efficient location possible but not necessarily the most spatially optimal one.
The other constraint was the ceiling height, which was not ideal and barely up to code.
Since the owners love the neighborhood and have no intention of moving, they were willing to spend a reasonable amount of funds to improve their living conditions.
The strategy had several substantial steps:
1-Lowering the basement level of the slab below the foundation line in order to achieve a more optimal ceiling height.
2-Expanding the windows and inserting new ones in order to comply with ventilation and daylight code requirements.
3-Re-organize and update mechanical and electrical systems and re-route existing plumbing lines, crossing through the space. Introduce radiant heating in this floor.
Lowering the levels of the slab was a slow, arduous process of cutting, digging, pouring, in 3 sft sectors. Given the new elevation, below that of the foundation, an upright of 8in in thickness was necessary in order to preserve the structural stability of the house.
The thickness of the upright, all along the perimeter, generated a form of chase in which all the plumbing and mechanical services could run and reach all the areas they were feeding in the floor above. In addition, the perimeter was insulated using closed cell foam, more effective for moisture.
The overall spatial organization still preserves the chimney in the center, but by relocating the services, a substantial amount of usable space was gained.
A new full bathroom, a play room/bedroom, closet, hobby room, storage and laundry are arranged in the rest of the space. A strategically integrated sliding door, allows separation between the playroom/bedroom and the rest of the spaces.
The materials are simple, white painted walls, krion counters, and grey epoxy resin floor with a high gloss finish in order to reflect as much light as possible and sustain the level of use it is going to get by three little active boys.
Located in a former industrial area of East Boston, 156 Porter is one of many conversions of old production warehouses into residential units done by developers in the Boston metropolitan area.
The units in the former bra factory have generous ceiling heights, large scale windows and exposed raw concrete structure, which gives them a unique identity reflecting the industrial past of the building.
The building has some deficiencies in terms of the type and layout of the mechanical and plumbing systems which conditions in many ways the layouts of the units themselves.
In addition, very limited provisions were made to provide adequate storage for this size units, leading to very cluttered arrangements of furniture and a compromise of the open and spacious nature of the spaces.
iVY Design Associates designed 3 units owned by two different families dealing with similar issues: How to provide better storage, improve the kitchen organization and optimize some of the sleeping areas in the space without sacrificing the open quality of the unit.
E-R is the most challenging of all three units is owned by a couple struggling to live in an open unit with a young toddler.
The challenge was to accommodate two separate sleeping areas and improve the amount of storage, without sacrificing the space.
In addition, the client had resistance to the idea of murphy beds or similar strategies, which only added to the equation.
The proposed project expands the mezzanine a minimum dimension in order to accommodate storage and a sleeping area. This space is accessed via a stair/storage furniture piece that resolves the storage demands of the client.
The living space becomes a bit more compact by displacing the kitchen towards the exterior wall, which allows to create a small room.
A raised platform defines the boundaries of the kitchen area and allow for the plumbing services to be housed within it.