For our site, which sits by the river, the first vision that came into mind for this housing project was Venice and its distinct architectural typology —the portego.
In terms of our massing, the U-shape of the portego served as the inspiration for our overall design. We developed a system of stepping, reciprocal frames where each module contains an apartment, a welcome garden connecting the apartment to the main circulation space, and a portego, which provides an extended living space that stitches together the apartment interior with the atmosphere of the river.
Our building also uses water as a natural heating and cooling device. The structural frames are designed to house pipe chases for carrying water throughout the building. The pipes siphon water from the river, which is then heated or cooled and circulated through the frames to each individual apartment. This water is then fed through the radiant floor system in each unit.
As New York is one of a few islands where many inhabitants don’t know how to swim, our program centers on the importance of water awareness and water safety by teaching the building occupants and neighbors how to swim.