This project was born out of misfortune. An attic fire rendered the cramped and compartmentalized spaces on the third floor of this home unlivable. In the aftermath, our client decided to transform this area of the home into a meditation studio that could also function as a studio apartment in the future. Along with the aesthetic desire for simple tranquility, our client had three additional requirements for the new space: more light, an open and airy look and feel, and comfort without the climatic extremes one typically finds in an attic.
Taking advantage of the opportunity left in destruction’s wake, the Feinmann design team utilized bold gestures and breathed new life into this traditional Georgian house. In order to find more natural light, we had to rethink one of the defining characteristics of the Georgian house: the widow’s walk. By introducing a series of domed skylights to the flat portion of the roof, space went from dark and claustrophobic to sun-filled during the day and moonlit at night, while still preserving the historic stature of the house.
The largest challenge on this project was structural. To take full advantage of the new skylights – making sure every corner of the new space was flooded with light – we redesigned the floor and roof structure to create an open loft-like space with a cathedral ceiling. We designed an innovative structural system that we integrated into the existing floor and roof structure, thereby creating a self-supporting diaphragm.
While the space was designed primarily as a meditation studio, it needed to maintain its potential to be a residence at some future point. Using a slightly lower tray ceiling in the kitchen area allowed us to maintain some definition of discrete space and scale. The full bath and walk-in closet were tucked in and around the central chimney core keeping them functionally separate and private.
2009 EM NARI CotY Silver Award Best Interior Project
We fell in love with our 1880 house because of its historic and classical style. But a fire on the third floor led to a complete rethinking of our attic and what it could be.