Squared Away

Unveiling the design process in Plain Sight.

The design of small space is an art that combines Houdini’s maneuvers, a Swiss watchmaker’s precision and a finely tuned ear to the opportunities that obstacles can present.

noroof architects was invited by Christopher Kilbridge, the editor of Plain Sight magazine, to visually capture the process of design for the premier issue. We chose to tell the story of the Finger Apartment. This project presented us with a puzzle of how to accommodate a family of three in a 500 sf “dumb-bell” apartment in New York’s East Village. We had to balance the needs for privacy, entertaining and daylight, with the imagination of Jonah, the 9-year old pirate of the family. Designing in such tight quarters prompted a step by step process. Rather than starting with a “big” idea, we began by selectively executing one move. We opened with shifting the bathroom inboard to anchor to a skylight, which initiated a shuffling of the main elements of the program. As happened with the first act, each consecutive maneuver cued the next. Although we carefully devised each move, the final result was not conceived as the work began, but, instead produced by way of the process.