By: Nile Greenberg
The Plan B competition invited us to think of solutions which prioritize density, scale and urbanization, but in some cities, such as New York City, we have an urban fabric so thick and intense that it takes significant effort to find distance from it. This proposal is for a communal vacation home which requires no effort to access. It turns our idyllic roof into a small agricultural farm with beautiful wooden house separating our community from the asphalt of the city.
This proposal is personal and I intend to mail this letter to my landlord with the hopes of beginning a conversation. I live in an old industrial loft building, surrounded by new developments, which despite their world-class architects, are so generic that they are unable to rent them. Our building has character, architectural space and a strong community which I want to leverage to build a communal second home. We would build and pay for the project ourselves and each co-owner could request a certain period of time each year when they get access to a suites. The communal ground floor would always be available for dinner parties, weddings or a work space.
I was pleased to find useful and inspiring products of Metsä Wood. The Kerto-Ripa® floor and roof elements were of particular interest and so I used them in three different ways to build the home. On the community level the elements sit in between Kerto-T® columns, on the middle level the elements sit on top of a Kerto-S® beam and on the roof it rests on Kerto-Q® LVL Panels with a special exposed structure below. The design emphasizes the assembly of parts and this system allows for basic units to be brought onto the roof and assembled with little effort. The windows, glass walls and furniture systems always fit within these main elements ensuring that the self-built building can be realized.
Here is the letter addressed to my landlord.
We the tenants write to you today with a proposition: a self-initiated improvement to our building in Downtown Brooklyn– a second home. Our loft building has always hosted a strong creative community; we’ve shared a rooftop farm for years, and now many of us hope to start families here. This second home would serve our community with a large kitchen and dining area, with a glass wall opening out onto the farm. The home will also provide our small families with two suites of rooms that offer privacy, silence, and simplicity to our otherwise complex New York City lives. These rooms are reminiscent of Japanese tea houses: quiet, warm, wooden rooms with large sliding windows, distinct from our all-concrete industrial lofts. This second home would be paid for and built by us, using sustainable prefabricated wood products. A wooden building in New York City is a rare thing, but this simple, shared structure would provide our community with a place to gather, find peace, and celebrate.
Downtown Brooklyn, NY