Opening Building Facades


Seattle based architect Tom Kundig’s design for Chicken Point Cabin in Hayden Lake, Northern Idaho, incorporates a window facade that opens toward the lake. Tilting in a manner resembling garage door systems, the 20′ x 30′ window utilizes “a hand-cranked mechanical contraption employing a counterbalance principle through a set of gears, like that of a bicycle, that allow minimal input of force to pivot the six-ton steel and glass window”. It’s an eloquent solution to the client’s desire to “make the house as open to the water as possible.”

In a polar opposite setting, New York City, 224 East 14th Street between second and third avenues, resides a new six storey brownstone designed by architect Bill Peterson. From all outward appearances it resembles the original lot occupant built in 1868. That is until the second or sixth floor facades, windows and walls combined, tilt and disappear across the ceiling, opening the narrow interior space. Other flourishes, including a reflective mirror on the inside wall or ceiling, dependent on the facade’s position, increases the light and sensation of space, creating a loft sensibility. An air curtain reduces street noise and keeps pesky insects at bay.

In 2005, BHCH LLC visualized the concept as highlighted in the accompanying stills and via a 3D animation at the official site, The Brownstone East Village. The building is nearing completion and has received continuous coverage on Curbed, the New York City Neighborhood and Real Estate blog: Curbed Article #1, Curbed Article #2, Curbed Article #3, Curbed Article #4, Curbed Article #5, Curbed Article #6, Curbed Article #7, Curbed Article #8.

The Brownstone East Village. Images: BHCH LLC. Architect: Bill Peterson.

Chicken Point Cabin. Photographs: Benjamin Benschneider. Architect: Olsen Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects.

Special thanks to Brandon Hicks. Chicken Point Cabin excerpt from the book, Tom Kundig: Houses.

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