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    Stewart-Schafer renovates modernist house in Connecticut woods

    The founders of Brooklyn studio Stewart-Schafer have renovated a modernist home in Connecticut for themselves, using a natural colour palette to complement the surrounding woodland.

    James Veal and Christine Stucker, co-principals of Stewart-Schafer, chose to overhaul the modernist-style “architectural gem” for their family
    Stewart-Schafer principals James Veal and Christine Stucker added a personal touch to a house in EastonBuilt in 1984, the four-bedroom home sits within 18 acres of woodland in the town of Easton, a 62-mile (100-kilometre) commute from New York City.
    “The bones of the house and property were incredible,” Veal and Stucker told Dezeen. “You can tell the original owners who had this house built put a lot of love into it, no detail was spared.”
    The studio replaced some of the floor-to-ceiling windows and doors during renovation workThey had been searching for a house in Connecticut for a year, to no avail.

    But when they found this 4,700-square-foot (437-square-metre) residence on Morehouse Road it was “love at first sight” and they put in an offer almost immediately after viewing.
    The kitchen was given an update using wooden cabinetry”Sadly the second owners did not maintain it over the years and there were several things that needed to be fixed and replaced,” they added.
    An extensive renovation involved updating the family room, kitchen, and powder room, and redesigning the interiors throughout.
    A large bedroom was converted into a family room upstairsSeveral of the large glass windows and doors were replaced, and the exterior was transformed with new decking and planting after clearing the site of dead trees.
    The couple also renovated a cabin in the woods on the property, to serve as a guest house.
    Textures and colours were chosen to complement the original architectureIn both buildings, a blend of Japanese and Scandinavian decor was used to complement the existing wooden floors, ceilings and other joinery, in order to stay true to the original designs.
    Bedrooms and bathrooms were painted with earthy hues, while other rooms feature rugs, upholstery and bedding that continue the same palette.
    Rugs and upholstery continue the natural colour scheme in the bedrooms”With all the wood and views of the property we knew that inside we needed to play on those organic colours,” said the duo. “We used various textures throughout the home to balance things out.”
    The main house is split over three floors, with the majority of living space located on the central level.
    Clerestory windows bring light into the upstairs bedrooms from multiple sidesA double-height formal living room and adjacent dining area have decks on either side and connect to the separate kitchen that features white tiling and wood cabinetry.
    The primary bedroom suite on the same level leads to an indoor pool, which can be exposed to the elements by fully sliding back a floor-to-ceiling glass wall.

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    Upstairs, a large bedroom was converted into a family room with a custom-made modular sofa.
    “Originally it was just a huge open bedroom with no real sense of direction or purpose,” said Veal and Stucker. “By adding a fireplace and custom millwork along an oversized double sided sofa this room serves so many purposes.”
    Bathrooms were painted in darker huesThis room and two further bedrooms on the top level have clerestory windows that allow natural light to enter from multiple sides.
    The lowest level accommodates a home office and a mechanical room. All of the floors are connected by both internal stair flights with open risers and a black spiral staircase outside.
    The project involved replacing the outdoor decking and planting new foilageOverall, Stewart-Schafer aimed to imbue the almost 40-year-old house with contemporary flourishes that respect and celebrate the original architecture.
    “We really feel like this house has been a great example of how good design stands the test of time,” the couple said. “We feel even in 30 more years it will still be very relevant.”
    Built in 1984, the house sits on 18 acres of woodlandThere are many examples of modernist architecture Southwest Connecticut – an affluent area where many New Yorkers have long chosen to live within easy reach of the city, but with the benefits of rural surroundings.
    Others that have been updated in the past few years include a Marcel Breuer home expanded by Toshiko Mori and a mid-century residence renovated by Joel Sanders.
    The photography is by Alice Gao.

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    Nwankpa Design creates compact, colourful sanctuary for working mom in LA

    California studio Nwankpa Design has transformed a room in a family house into a colourful, private space for a mother to work, breastfeed and exercise.

    The project, called Cumberland Hideaway, was designed by local firm Nwankpa Design for a creative director and mother of two. Totalling 200 square feet (18.5 square metres), the slender, rectangular room is located within a suburban, ranch-style home in Los Angeles.
    Cumberland Hideaway was designed by local firm Nwankpa DesignThe space formerly held a storage area, and before that, it served as a garage.
    The client desired a “sanctuary” where she could work, nurse and ride a fitness bike, in addition to having storage space. The design needed to be as efficient as possible because of the room’s limited size.
    “The programme packs a lot into the small footprint,” the studio said.

    The room was designed for a mother to breastfeed, work and exerciseThe team opted for blocks of colour, streamlined cabinetry and contemporary decor. The combined elements create variety without making the space feel too crowded.
    A skylight and slit windows bring in daylight while also offering privacy. Extra illumination is provided by globe-shaped Carina Maxi pendants from Nuevo Living, a Restoration Hardware chandelier and sconces by Brooklyn studio In Common With.
    Nwankpa Design added colourful accents to the spaceWalls are sheathed in a light-grey wallpaper from Fayce. Bush-hammered porcelain tile was used for the flooring.
    Furnishings include a wooden treadmill desk, a Blu Dot table and a peach sofa from Interior Define. A bold, striped rug by Ralph Lauren helps delineate the lounge area.
    Furnishings include a wooden work deskCustom medium-density fibreboard cabinets – in shades of pale pink, baby blue and white – were staggered to fit a Peloton exercise bike. Brass was selected for knobs and handles. A mini fridge was incorporated into cabinetry along one wall.
    A range of potted plants helps to round out the space.

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    Studio founder Susan Nwankpa Gillespie said the project brief resonated with her, being a working mom herself.
    “It’s about all of the things we need, without compromising what we want,” she said.
    “We need a space to decompress – somewhere we can focus and get work done, whatever kind of work that is,” she added. “We also want it to feel special, to uplift us.”
    Nwankpa Design scattered potted plants around the roomOther spaces for working moms include Big and Tiny, a co-working facility with on-site childcare that features wooden decor and a blue-and-pink colour palette, and a variety of outposts for The Wing, a women-focused, co-working company.
    The photography is by Madeline Tolle.
    Project credits:
    Design studio: Nwankpa DesignTeam: Susan Nwankpa Gillespie (lead designer), Lillian Nguyen (designer)

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    OWIU creates tranquil environment in renovated LA home

    California studio OWIU has revamped the interior of a 1950s home, adding elements that were inspired by traditional Japanese inns to create a peaceful environment.

    The 1,516-square-foot (141-square-metre) house, called Palmero, sits within the San Rafael Hills in LA’s Mount Washington neighbourhood.
    On the exterior, OWIU applied smooth, tan stuccoThe single-storey residence was bought as an investment property by actor Kane Lim and was sold last month following a renovation by local studio OWIU, which stands for The Only Way Is Up.
    Originally built in 1955, the dwelling looks toward the city skyline in the distance.
    OWIU designed the home, which overlooks the city skyline”We were drawn to the home’s seclusion from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles,” said Joel Wong, who leads OWIU with Amanda Gunawan.

    When the designers embarked on the mid-century renovation project, the house was in rough shape, with soiled carpets, degraded flooring and broken windows, among other issues.
    It is a mid-century renovation projectThe designers aimed to transform the neglected home into “a refuge of calm” by drawing upon the landscape and using neutral elements that would help quiet the mind.
    “If you go in strong with design, it energizes you quickly and then promptly dies out,” said Gunawan.
    Palmero takes cues from traditional Japanese inns”Much of our design leans toward the ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn, enabling us to achieve a visceral effect,” she added.
    On the exterior, the designers applied smooth, tan stucco. To create a more open atmosphere within, they removed several non-load-bearing walls and false ceilings and reconfigured part of the layout to create a main bedroom suite.
    Earthy colours give the home an organic feelEarthy colours like terracotta and beige – and materials such as light-toned oak flooring – give the home an organic feel.
    In certain rooms, walls are clad in Venetian plaster. The designers said that this material “brings the delicate texture of the surrounding mountains into the home”.
    Original wooden beams and panels were sanded down, revealing the natural colour.
    The kitchen has quartzite countertopsIn the kitchen, one finds quartzite countertops and oak cabinets, along with an island made of glass blocks. The same material was used for a partition separating the living area from a bathroom, creating privacy without obstructing flow.
    The designers noted that the glass bricks – which are structurally strong while still enabling the passage of light – are often associated with “a period of garish flash from the ’80s”.
    Retro glass bricks feature in the interior design”OWIU sought to restore the material to its original glamour and refigure what might otherwise be considered obsolete,” the team said.
    To furnish the house, the designers worked with the vintage collector Jullie Nguyen of LA’s Ban Ban Studio.
    Vintage collector Jullie Nguyen assisted on the projectNotable pieces include a modular sofa by Vladimir Kagan and a 1980s Hexa coffee table by Bernard Vuarnesson, both of which date to the 1980s.
    Lighting fixtures include three lamps by Isamu Noguchi and several George Nelson pendants.

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    “These pieces brought a distinctly modern-yet-practical touch to the home while remaining in harmony with the existing architecture and new design elements,” the team said.
    Beyond the interior, the studio reimagined the backyard by creating a sculptural, poured-concrete terrace and a custom bench around a fire pit.
    A small wooden desk takes cues from a platform in a Zen gardenMoreover, the studio added a small wooden deck off the main bedroom that is meant to evoke a platform in a Zen garden. It also takes cues from tea ceremony rooms found in ryokans.
    “The step down leads, almost imperceptibly, into the garden, easing the home dweller into the natural space,” the designers said, noting that the yard features bonsai and maple trees.
    “The action is so unassuming that one might forget this step after the routine of living, but this is precisely the goal: a ritualized transition into calming spaces.”
    Japanese ryokans informed the design of Palmero houseOther projects by OWIU include a renovated apartment in an old factory in downtown LA, which features Japanese design elements that encourage “a mindful lifestyle”.
    The photography is by Justin Chung.
    Project credits:
    Designer and builder: OWIUDesign team: Joel Wong, Amanda Gunawan, Claudia Wainer, Nathan Lin, Bonnie Wong and Leo Yang

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    Norman Kelley refreshes lobby of postmodern Chicago skyscraper

    US architecture studio Norman Kelley used materials such as brass and polished quartz to update the lobby in a 1980s skyscraper designed by John Burgee and Philip Johnson.

    The project – formally called the 190 South LaSalle Street Lobby – is located within a postmodern-style office tower in Chicago’s Central Loop. The 41-storey building was originally designed by American architects John Burgee and Philip Johnson and opened in 1987.
    Norman Kelley updated the lobby with materials including brassThe current owners, Beacon Capital Partners, hired local studio Norman Kelley to update the ground-level lobby, which is open to the public.
    “The overall goal of the project was to provide a safe interior public space that encourages community and contemplation, or a space to linger within,” the studio said.
    Rose-hued marble pilasters were kept intactThe lobby has a number of notable features that were kept intact. These include rose-hued marble pilasters, a black-and-white marble floor, and a 50-foot-tall (15-metre) vaulted ceiling sheathed in gold leaf.

    Norman Kelley added a range of new elements, including electric turnstiles, security desks and a cafe. Brass and polished quartz were used for the desks and cafe.
    A black-and-white marble floor was also preservedThe studio also designed new furnishings for the project, including a curvy sofa and long banquette, both in a vanilla hue.
    The seating was inspired by two sources – Vitra’s office furniture and group seating in the now-shuttered Four Seasons restaurant in New York, designed by Philip Johnson.
    A vanilla-hued banquette was designed by the studioThe seating was paired with round, brass-and-marble tables topped with portable LED Carrie lamps by Norm Architects.
    The north apse, which once held a marble security desk, was redesigned as a semicircular amphitheatre measuring 12 feet high and 27 feet wide (3.7 by 8.2 metres).
    The semi-circular amphitheatre has gold seatingThe tiered seating is made of perforated brass risers and honed, off-white marble with gold veining. Railings are made of brass pipes.
    To animate the space, the architects created an “immersive audio experience” in collaboration with the studio iart and sound scenographer Idee und Klang.
    Brass and polished quartz were used for the desks and cafeThe weather-inspired audio installation was designed to be triggered by 81 light sensors and three motion sensors that are located behind the risers.
    “Once the amphitheatre senses one’s presence, a musical score comprising 15 instruments, four tempos, and seven keys and scales play across eight of the nearest 91 speakers,” the team said.

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    “The brass-and-marble amphitheatre is a responsive instrument that uses real-time data inputs, like weather and time of day, to compose an ever-changing sonic environment.”
    The amphitheatre stands in contrast to the southern apse, where a towering bronze sculpture, called Chicago Fugue by Anthony Caro, was installed in 1987. The abstract sculpture is composed of anomalous shapes and alludes to musical instruments.
    A bronze sculpture by Anthony Caro features in the space”Like an aural diptych, the lobby presents two musical sculptures: one figurative, the other literal, to welcome you back to work,” the team said.
    Norman Kelley was founded in 2012 by Carrie Norman and Thomas Kelley.
    The studio’s other projects include an Aesop store in Chicago’s Bucktown neighbourhood, which features reclaimed bricks arranged in pinwheel patterns, and a flagship store for clothing retailer Notre that is housed in a building dating to 1906.
    The photography is by Kendall McCaugherty Ristau.
    Project credits:
    Architect: Norman KelleyOwner: Beacon Capital PartnersGeneral contractor: Power Construction CompanyMedia architecture: iartSound scenography: Idee und KlangAcoustics: Walters-Storyk Design GroupMEP: Kent Consulting EngineersStructural engineering: Klein & HoffmanAudio visual services: Global Service TechniciansMillwork: HuberExpediter: Burnham NationwideFilm: Spirit of Space

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    Frederick Tang Architecture transforms New York loft into light-filled wellness studio

    Interior architecture and design studio Frederick Tang Architecture (FTA) has updated Moxi, a wellness studio and acupuncture centre in Soho, New York by re-arranging its interiors around an expansive oval skylight.

    Frederick Tang Architecture, based in Brooklyn, was tasked with reordering and redesigning the open-plan, top-floor studio into a space that accommodates a reception area, six treatment rooms, offices, bathrooms, herb dispensary and pantry.
    Frederick Tang Architecture wanted to capture natural lightThe studio took the 1901 mercantile building’s skylight as the starting point for the refurbishment of the rectangular-shaped space.
    Its dense urban context required an innovative solution to increase the floor area while introducing natural light throughout.
    Moxi is arranged around a central skylight”Architecturally we wanted to organise the many different components in a plan that felt logical and complete which was difficult with space constraints,” said Frederick Tang, director of design and principal architect at Frederick Tang Architecture (FTA).

    “We started by organizing the plan around the sources of natural light,” he told Dezeen.
    An office space has been added to the interiorVisitors enter the wellness studio and arrive at a reception area framed by four arched windows overlooking Broadway.
    Here, a custom bench crafted from white oak slats and copper detailing curves along two walls while sculptural pendant lights hang from the ceiling.
    To maximise space and take full advantage of the natural light, this area doubles as a site for gatherings and classes.
    The reception is flanked by four arched windowsFTA reconfigured Moxi’s rooms as well as softened corners and created arches that echo some of the existing architecture of the space for the client who wanted the interior to feel “holistic, natural, calm and inspiring”.
    A single corridor leads to all six treatment rooms, which were also coloured in shades of green.
    The walls were lime-washed in a soft cypress green, with wainscotting wooden panels painted in a darker shade of the same hue.

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    FTA wanted the colour to contrast traditional wellness studios which are often white and feel more clinical.
    “The predominant colour was green –lime washed in a cypress and deep forest – chosen for its property to heal, critical at the front where the patron first experiences the space,” said the architects.
    Each acupuncture treatment room has a different wallpaperThe treatment rooms, which are the most intimate sections in the studio, contain two bedrooms and a bathroom arranged around the lightwell.
    The green was offset by hints of pale peach throughout the interior and natural finishes including terrazzo, concrete, boucle and ribbed glass add depth and texture.
    A kitchenette is located at the end of the central corridorAt the end of the corridor, a second archway opens into a back-of-house area, where FTA has inserted a new office, herb dispensary, staff pantry, and bath.
    Other design-focused wellness spaces include the Shelter wellness centre in Sydney, which is located in a former restaurant and Yoko Kitahara spa in Israel, which was transformed from an Ottoman-era home.
    The photography is by Gieves Anderson.

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    Olson Kundig's New York office includes a timber cityscape table

    Earthy tones and a wooden table in the shape of a cityscape feature in the Olson Kundig’s first New York office, which was designed with sensitivity to the 100-year-old building it occupies.

    Located in Midtown Manhattan, the office is spread across the 10th floor of a mid-rise tower constructed in 1923.
    The office features a central living room with a sculptural tableOlson Kundig – a studio with its primary offices in Seattle – created the interior to be its first New York City hub with a material and colour palette that responded to the building’s 100-year-old history.
    The open-plan office is defined by a central “living room” that features a 144-square-foot (13-square-metre) wooden table on wheels with a statement geometric cityscape.
    The cityscape was informed by the office’s New York locationCreated from raw timber offcuts, the table is divided into quarters for different configurations. It was designed by studio principal Tom Kundig and fabricated by Spearhead.

    “The design was the result of a conversation Alan [Maskin] and I had about our teacher, [the late architect] Astra Zarina, and our fond memories of gathering around the table at her home in the centre of Rome,” Kundig told Dezeen.
    “She always had a big pile of candles in the centre of the table, similar to the abstract masses at the centre of our table.”
    “We want to foster the same spirit of conversation and sharing between colleagues and collaborators in this new office space, so it was a natural place to draw inspiration.”
    An unenclosed kitchen is also located adjacent to the stationsA series of wooden workstations are arranged across the open-plan office, while conference rooms feature around its perimeter. An open kitchen is also located adjacent to the stations.
    Platforms are positioned above the workstations offering a display area for sculptures and models. According to the studio, this continues its tradition of integrating art into everyday life.

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    The office interior was designed to reflect its Manhattan location, rather than mirror the firm’s flagship office in Seattle, according to Kundig.
    “The existing shell of the office was largely concrete and glass. We added wood and warmer tones to soften the space, with natural materials to add texture and interest,” explained Alan Maskin, partner at the studio.
    Artwork is displayed around the officeA mixture of vintage and contemporary furniture was sourced locally from locations in Brooklyn and Tribeca.
    Like the Seattle office, the New York space will also host various art events, tying the otherwise-unique locations together.
    Wooden elements define the spaceOlson Kundig was founded in 2000. The firm has completed multiple international architecture projects including a beach house with louvred shutters in Sydney and a timber floating home in Seattle.
    Another practice that designed its own studio is Urselmann Interior, which created its office using only biodegradable and recycled materials.
    The photography is by Angela Hau.

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    Light and Air updates Financial District apartment with open floor plan

    Brooklyn studio Light and Air has renovated a loft in New York City’s financial district by removing partitions to create an open, inviting space.

    Occupying the 12th storey of a converted commercial building in one of Manhattan’s historic neighbourhoods, the apartment has generous windows and floor area, but previously made poor use of these qualities and felt cramped.
    The apartment occupies the 12th storey of a Manhattan building”The existing conditions stifled the unit’s access to light and air,” said the design team. The owners tapped Shane Neufeld, of  Brooklyn-based Light and Air Studio, to rethink the space.
    “The space featured a low-hanging storage loft that hovered over the entry and a sprawling closet that loudly commanded the center of the space, disrupting any potential for meaningful visual connections,” said Neufeld.
    It was updated to have an open floor plan”Our goal was to maintain the functionality of the storage loft while creating a more generous entry and rethinking the programming and materiality of the apartment in its entirety,” the designer added.

    The team removed many of the apartment’s internal walls and reduced the footprint of the overhead storage loft to allow taller ceilings. Within the reconfigured welcome area, custom closets, shelving, and a sculptural wooden bench provide plenty of storage, some behind a slatted wooden wall.
    A minimal material palette was used throughoutLight and Air also updated the flooring in this area, marking the transition between the concrete of the building’s corridors and the apartment’s hardwood. The polished concrete is also found in the kitchen and bathroom.
    Within the 1,200 square-foot (111-square-metre) apartment, Light and Air partitioned the space using open shelving, allowing some perspectives to stay open between the living room and bedroom.
    Custom desks were built into the space”Our strategy took the shape of an open floor plan with minimal partitions and reducing the existing material complexity through a more straightforward approach,” said Neufeld.
    The living and dining room is positioned in the corner of the unit and has windows facing in two different directions.
    “Two exterior walls with multiple southeast and southwest exposures allow for significant natural light and impressive views of lower Manhattan,” said Neufeld.

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    These spaces were connected to the kitchen, which remained in the same location, but was updated with matching cabinetry, new appliances, and an additional sink that provides more functionality.
    Throughout the apartment, the designers employed a minimal palette. The walls have no base moulding, there is flush cabinetry, and custom, built-in desks.
    Wood takes centre stage in the project”As one moves in and around the different elements (some floating effortlessly off the ground), its functional variety and formal character become more readily apparent,” Neufeld concluded.
    Light and Air studio, also known as L/AND/A, was founded in 2017. The firm also designed a townhouse in Brooklyn, with a skylight illuminating a central staircase.
    Other New York City apartment renovations include a “minimal but warm” apartment that was designed by Selma Akkari and Rawan Muqaddas, and a loft on Broadway that local studio Worrell Yeung reconfigured to meet the needs of a growing family.
    The photography is by Kevin Kunstadt.

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    Park Slope condo becomes New York City's “largest mass-timber building”

    Local studio Mesh Architectures has completed Timber House, a condominium in Brooklyn that developer The Brooklyn Home Company claims is “the largest mass timber building in New York City.”

    Timber House is made of glue-laminated timber, a type of structurally engineered wood used to make mass timber structures, and is the largest mass-timber project in New York City in terms of square footage and height, according to The Brooklyn Home Company.
    It is also the first condominium project in the city to be built using mass timber, the developer said.
    The building has 14 condos”Timber House started with the simple notion of creating a sense of life in a building, which engages, stimulates, and at the same time, calms us,” said Eric Lifton, founder and principal of Mesh Architectures.
    “The way we do that here is by using a plant as the primary building material.”

    The building’s columns, beams and floor plates are all mass timber, while the core had to be made of concrete masonry because of city restrictions, the studio said.
    The apartments stretch across the length of the structureTimber House is located in the residential Park Slope neighbourhood in Brooklyn and comprises 14 condos that stretch from the street-side to the back of the building.
    According to Mesh Architectures, the building was “constructed with passive house principles”.
    While not passive-house certified, it was built with solar photovoltaic panels on the roof to provide energy, and mineral wool and polyisocyanurate insulation to reduce the need for air conditioning.
    Heating and air conditioning is provided by air-source heat pumps.
    The building was developed in collaboration with The Brooklyn Home CompanyIt also features passive house-quality windows with triple glazing, and the 10 parking spaces in its ground-floor garage each have an electric charging station.
    The building’s facade is characterized by a flat face made with Danish brick that, according to the team, was chosen to integrate the building into the mostly brownstone neighbourhood.
    On the upper levels, the envelope is sculpted into jutting windows and recessed balconies with glass railings. The balconies’ undersides are wooden, giving the exterior palette a touch of the timber within.
    The floors are also made of woodA rooftop terrace provides views of Downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan.
    Inside, wooden walls and ceilings line the corridors, which have hexagonal tiling on the floor that was designed custom by Mesh and produced in Turkey.
    The condos have 11-feet-tall (3.3 metres-tall) ceilings and feature exposed timber beams with LED lights that are integrated directly into the wood.

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    The timber beams also extend down from the ceiling to frame some of the walls and windows, providing insight into the building’s structural makeup.
    “The exposed wooden beams present in the home create a style reminiscent of city living in the 1960s and ’70s when we picture those large loft-style residences, which is really special,” said Bill Caleo of The Brooklyn Home Company.
    “As a city, if we want to lower our carbon footprint we need to prioritize mass timber.”
    In addition to the ceiling and beams the condos have wooden accentsFlooring in the living areas is wood, while the kitchen is floored with white tile to match the white cabinetry – accented with natural wood tones – and a long, white island.
    Other recently-announced designs for mass timber structures include the world’s tallest timber building designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen and a Henning Larsen-designed Volvo experience centre in Sweden.
    The photography is by Travis Mark. 

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