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Of Possible Architectures

Of Possible Architectures

Of Possible is a creative practice working across spheres of architectural design, interiors, urbanism, industrial design, sculpture, and large-scale public art. The studio pursues architecture as a marriage of spatial poetry and building science.

Sheffield Residence / Of Possible Architectures

Ph: Rory Gardiner

Construction has completed on a 3,600 sq.ft. contemporary home in Sheffield, Massachusetts, designed by Vincent Appel / Of Possible and built by Kent Hicks Construction. The timeless craft of traditional New England construction is met with the most advanced building science principles and technologies resulting in a contemporary expression of rural American architecture that will last for generations. 

Ph: Rory Gardiner

The site on which the client grew up as a child is located fifteen minutes south of Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The original two-story home on the property proved unsustainable for late-life living and was relocated nearby for the client’s sister. The ambition for the new home became the creation of a contemporary design with a nod to the local vernacular architecture. The clients were looking for an architecture that engaged the memories of the original home on the site from their youth, which included an apple orchard, barn, and horse corral to the east, a long yard and gardens to the south, an evergreen and wetland ravine to the north, and a grand maple tree with a 70-foot canopy to the west. The clients were torn between wanting a glasshouse and something more traditional. 

The result is a home where every window and door is a floor-to-ceiling picture frame of the spaces of memory. The architectural finishes are a sober palette chosen to enhance the effect of these frames against the ever-changing seasonal New England landscape. Moving through the home during the day, one is drawn from the inside spaces to the outside landscape. Similarly, when one approaches the home from the outside, the large terraces create similar exterior frames of the landscape as well as into the interior. This is a home for creating new memories and honoring old ones. 

Of Possible, based in Brooklyn, New York, designed the home working closely with Kent Hicks Construction and Energy Efficiency Associates in Massachusetts. The project is an example of uncompromising contemporary design, conceptual architecture, and the application of sustainable building science. Working with Kent Hicks Construction, a contractor and Certified Passive House Consultant, the design team developed straightforward construction details to achieve Passive House level building assemblies. Though not certified, the home is built to meet Passive House Institute standards. Materials were sourced regionally, selected for low global warming potential, and detailed for ease of construction to last generations. Mechanical systems and energy loads were sized so that the home could achieve net-zero energy performance with the addition of a small ground-mounted solar panel array. 

DATE: 2019 / LOCATION: Sheffield, Massachusetts, United States  / AREA: 335 m2 (built) / PROGRAM: single family house / STATUS: built / DESIGN: Of Possible Architectures (Vincent Appel) / CONSTRUCTION: Kent Hicks Construction / CONSULTANTS: Energy Efficiency Associates (building science), Alula Woodworks (millwork), New Antiquity (Kitchen Millwork), Western Red Cedar Association (Cedar siding consulting) / PHOTOS: Rory Gardiner

Jericho Residence / Of Possible Architectures

Images: Darcstudio (Troy Hodgson)

DATE: 2019 / LOCATION: United States / AREA: m2 (built) / PROGRAM: single family house / STATUS: unbuilt / DESIGN: Of Possible Architectures (Vincent Appel) / 

Sint Maarten Resort Hotel / Of Possible Architectures

Images: Darcstudio (Troy Hodgson)

The Summit Resort Hotel opened in 1973 and has been one of the longest running hotels in Sint Maarten. The hotel is located on a north facing bluff overlooking the Simpson Bay Lagoon and commands the best view of the island. The picture above shows the lagoon and location of the resort which was completely destroyed by hurricane Irma. The Summit was regarded as the hotel for an iconic old world Caribbean experience. Many patrons returned year after year for nearly forty years.

The Summit can be found at the end of Jordan Road. This road is lined with typical commercial concrete boxes. The Summit was a departure from this conventional commercial architecture and a step back in time to the scale, pace, and atmosphere of the old world Caribbean island. The site sits between the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine to the east and Caribbean International Academy to the west.

Images: Darcstudio (Troy Hodgson)

The original site plan of the Summit was ingeniously simple. The slightly rotated two-story bungalows were terraced across the gently sloping site. This helped maximize site lines to the lagoon and take advantage of the prevailing trade winds. Perhaps the greatest effect of this geometry was how dynamic and organic the experience of walking though the site felt. Although it was rationally organized, every moment between the bungalows felt unique. The atmosphere was that of an old world Caribbean Village.

The design captures the effects of the original Summit and creates a new architecture that deeply embraces the character of the site. Clusters of bungalow style units preserver the original character of the plan while increasing operational and construction efficiency. This design approach, while looking organic, is based on a rational 18 x 18 meter rational construction grid. As a concept, it is scalable and designed to be resilient to inevitable programming and design development requirements moving forward.

Site Plan

The site is planned around three cascading courtyards — a botanical garden, learning garden, and pool terrace. These create a straightforward and elegant way-finding solution to the 3.2 acre site. They also help to control separate circulation paths for the different programs. The flow of hotel guests, condo owners, hospitality school students, and visitors to the restaurant and pools is discretely curated across the site.

Paths branch from each courtyard to the perimeter of the site through clusters of hotel and condo units. The spaces between these outlying units are designed as smaller and less defined courtyard gardens. Their open corners allow views out through the density of the site. This arrangement allows for overall greater density than the original hotel while maintaining the distinctive feeling of an organically planned old world Caribbean village.

DATE: 2018 / LOCATION: Sint Marteen / AREA: – m2 (built) / PROGRAM: resort hotel / STATUS: unbuilt / DESIGN: Of Possible Architectures / LEAD DESIGN ARCHITECTS: Vincent Appel (Principal), Tram Anh Nguyen, Yue Guan / REGIONAL ARCHITECTURE: Design Per Square Inch (Leonardo Perez, Erin Moon) / LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: Site Image (Christian Vitulli, Director) / IMAGES: Darcstudio (Troy Hodgson) 

BK Garden Apartments / Of Possible Architectures

Images: Darcstudio

76A Cooper Street is a new four unit and five story apartment building in Brooklyn, NY. The site is located mid-block among late 19th century wood frame and brick row houses. The developer wanted to maximize the floor area on the site while creating a durable, low maintenance, and uniquely differentiated housing product. 

Maximum floor area is achieved by terracing the rear of the building. On top of each terrace is a small garden for the adjacent residence. Each unit is effectively a garden level apartment. The rear of the building is a vertical landscape and extension of the wooded inner courtyard typical to these Brooklyn blocks. Careful attention was paid to leave mature trees in the rear yard undisturbed during construction. The effect of living in the upper level units with their large floor to ceiling windows and outdoor terraces is that of being in a canopy and treehouse — an unusual nature filled experience for Brooklyn living.

Images: Darcstudio

The building’s envelope is built significantly over energy code requirements to create a more comfortable living environment with lower energy consumption. All appliances and systems are electric further optimizing indoor air quality and energy consumption. Conventional and low cost building materials are finished as highly durable and interior design elements. The concrete structural slab is left exposed and polished reducing cost, maintenance, and creating a healthier living environment.

Each residential unit is designed to create a sustainable living for families or roommates with a high density lifestyle. This additional attention to the environment and architecture reduces rental turnover, reduces wear and tear on the building, and increases the quality of living in this market segment.

The adjacent buildings are likely to be demolished in the near future. The new zoning allows for greater floor area to be built on these sites. As a result the neighborhood’s 19th century wood frame buildings with tired previously renovated facades are intermittently demolished and replaced by five story new construction buildings in an idiosyncratic assortment of architectural looks. Given the economic pressure and efficiency of the local construction market, no compelling architectural style has emerged. Few materials aside from stucco and exterior finished insulation are afforded in this market.

The design for 76A Cooper takes a sober and durable approach. The façade is made out of affordable and durable Shou Sugi Ban wood. This thermally treated wood will last over a hundred years, nods back to the wood frame construction of the original neighborhood, and has dark gritty patinaed texture that feels Brooklyn. 

DATE: 2017- ongoing / LOCATION: Brooklyn, NY, United States / AREA: m2 (built) / PROGRAM: housing / STATUS: built / DESIGN: Of Possible Architectures (Vincent Appel) / CONSTRUCTION: / CONSULTANTS: / RENDERS: Darcstudio 

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