play space for a modern harry potter

28 Jun

crawl space

When architects are challenged with redesigning interior spaces, they’re often expected to make maximum use of the square footage on offer.  I’m not an expert in any way, but based on my primary experiences in space planning class, what to do with stairs (and the resulting negative space underneath) has got to rank as one of the toughest tasks on hand … especially when the home is small to begin with.

I discovered the photo at top through the Brownstoner website, who featured this GORGEOUS townhouse as its ” house of the day” last Wednesday. What you see here is the bottom floor of a four-story home in the Boerum Hill section of Brooklyn.  It’s available via Corcoran,where you can see more photos of the amazing interior.  Although commenters on Brownstoner have debated whether it’s the interior design (versus the space planning) that makes this space so beautiful, for our purposes, let’s say it’s a combination of the two. . . it’s a silly debate unless you’re in the market for a $2MM townhouse…

section drawing, courtesy Brownstoner/Coburn Architecture

Anyway, back to the room.  As you can see in the sketch (above), the playroom occupies a space that’s below-ground on one side and adjacent to the outside space on the other.  An amazing firm called Coburn Architecture (located here in Downtown Brooklyn) had the fantastic idea to section off the space below the staircase; then, instead of walling it closed, they created a little cubbyhole/clubhouse for kids to play in.   Then they added small round cutouts as much for visual effect as to showcase the spaces behind the walls.  I love how the photo is staged with cushions to show how the area might be used.

L: BH&G online; R: Chictip.com

Compare this to what you might otherwise find when searching for ‘creative under-stairs spaces.’  Although the image at right is beautifully done, I’d much rather create a space for my kid to play in! I suppose the depth of the stairwell is at play here, and the desired lifespan for a space like this (what happens when the kids grow up or you decide to sell?)

beautifully staged boy's bedroom

No matter, really, when it’s my fantasy house.  But back in the real world, I’m very impressed with Coburn’s work (as featured on their website).  They’re a multidisciplinary office, offering both architecture and design – and some of these designs are to die for.  Here’s what I believe to be a boy’s bedroom in the architect’s own home – simple, clean, and well-apportioned.  Great work.

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