Residence in Queens by OBRA
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Queens Village, New York

Located 15 minutes from Manhattan in the midst of suburban housing developed in the 1960's, this house is designed for a young designer moving back to New York City from Indonesia. Tightly flanked by existing small houses with gabled roofs on each side, the house faces South-West where a drop in the landscape reveals forested views of Cunningham Park 200 yards away. To create a close relationship of occupation and simple presence between interior and exterior, all spaces except for guest rooms are on the ground floor. This initial impulse generates a dense impenetrable footprint which is cut into strips and then displaced, creating an interdependent sequence of interior and exterior spaces and providing abundant natural light and ventilation everywhere in the house.

The resulting volume, disjoined by misalignment glass surfaces, is held together by the floor surface itself which smoothly extends throughout allowing the use of the whole as a large party space as well as the intimate occupation of corners for daily personal use. The constantly shifting views generated by moving through the house past the alternatively advancing and receding walls, first hide and then reveal the spaces of inhabitation.

East-West façades are glazed for permeability of light and air. North-South façades are tilt-up concrete for structural support and privacy from neighbors and have cavities for utility distribution throughout the house. The roof plane, of steel tube structure, metal deck, insulation and seamed copper, is folded to direct water drainage and to strengthen structural performance enabling uninterrupted long spans. The ceilings define areas of intimacy, gently sloping down over smaller spaces and baffling incoming natural light.

To the materials of the neighborhood-beige vinyl siding, fake brick cladding and black asphalt shingle roofs-this house responds with the smooth luminosity of large glass, the hermetic roughness of tilt-up concrete walls uninterrupted by openings, and the splotched texture of rain-stained copper sheet, all of these dirty with runoff streaks and full of the deep shadows of the afternoon.