A funky old-timer

LOT Architects have given an old townhouse in Brooklyn a radical rejuvenation treatment. The result is one thing above all: blue.
by Anna Moldenhauer | 3/5/2021

Bushwick lies within the borough of Brooklyn in the northern part of New York City, and thus sits on the side of the metropolis that has always been a little more creative and relaxed than hectic Manhattan. While gentrification has already started to take hold in the previously more Hispanic-inclined neighborhood, the area hasn’t yet changed quite as radically as the adjoining districts of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Williamsburg. The rents are lower in comparison, the buildings smaller, the scene more colorful. The special character of this district is defined in architectural terms by its industrial past as an erstwhile center for beer-brewing. The amber nectar is rarely brewed in Bushwick these days – instead, countless colorful, spray-painted murals adorn the factory façades. Over the years, the buildings have been turned over to small galleries, shops, clubs and restaurants. This creative atmosphere has recently gained a bold splash of color courtesy of LOT Architects, who have catapulted a century-old townhouse building into the present day.

The “Blue Building” is what the architects are calling the three-story property, which certainly lives up to its name: Its monochrome, ultramarine façade is striking even from far away. From the front door to the steps and from the garbage cans to the metal fence – every detail matches the blue surface perfectly, so the color becomes like camouflage. Only the window frames in the form of whitewashed metal profiles disrupt the monochrome impression. The interior, meanwhile, is somewhat calmer: Here, LOT Architects gutted the townhouse down to the brickwork and removed a number of dividing walls. Now, ample daylight penetrates via the windows and skylights, meeting reflective surfaces such as the white of the walls and high ceilings, the gleaming silver of the curtains, or the translucent polycarbonate panels that serve as newly positioned room dividers. Even the black-stained hardwood floor seems to be illuminated by the sunlight. The tiny bathroom, in many New York apartments frequently a confined, dark space that does little for any sense of wellbeing, creates a pleasant club-like atmosphere: The combination of the skylight and an organically shaped mirror makes the room appear more spacious. At the same time, a homogeneous peach-rose color provides for a soft, homely ambiance.

With this stage-like backdrop, there’s not much need for extras – a minimalist interior supplemented with selected artworks is enough to make the house functional and cozy. Breaches of style are downright desirable here: The large, camel-colored leather sofa sits opposite holographically shimmering acrylic stools by Objects of common interests, a contrast that works. The courtyard garden, meanwhile, serves for visual clarity: An old magnolia tree rises up from the freshly cast concrete patio, while the white garden furniture is barely distinguishable as a result of the broadly grey-in-grey effect. Only the bold blue on the base of the external lights stands out and provides a point of reference with the lively color of the external façade. Here, too, LOT Architects use reflection to bring breadth and depth to the limited space: A corrugated aluminum fence surrounds the yard entirely and thus dictates the lighting moods during the day like a visual amplifier. This townhouse has thus been transformed into an unconventional loft that treads new ground without any sense of artificial effort.