MODU completes passive house designed Mini Tower One residence in Brooklyn
Michael Moran for MODU

MODU completes passive house designed Mini Tower One residence in Brooklyn

24 Jun 2024  •  News  •  By Collin Anderson

Brooklyn-based architecture studio MODU has recently completed Mini Tower One, a rear addition and renovation project for a multi-family residential building in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. The 325-square-meter (3,500-square-foot) project innovatively integrates urban nature with low-energy strategies, underpinned by its adherence to passive house design principles. Passive house design is crucial for sustainable construction as it dramatically reduces a building's energy consumption and carbon footprint. Key components include super-insulated facades and airtight construction to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures with minimal energy use.

photo_credit Michael Moran for MODU
Michael Moran for MODU
photo_credit MODU
MODU
photo_credit MODU
MODU

Framed by a 50-foot birch tree, the project incorporates these passive house principles alongside solutions such as radiant outdoor heating on the terrace, an air curtain that allows the sunroom to open to the outdoors while maintaining interior environments, and a planted indoor tree for air filtration and cooling. These features enable Mini Tower One to transition from an airtight, energy-efficient home during peak heating and cooling months to a series of indoor-outdoor spaces during temperate weather.

photo_credit Michael Moran for MODU
Michael Moran for MODU
photo_credit Michael Moran for MODU
Michael Moran for MODU
photo_credit Michael Moran for MODU
Michael Moran for MODU

The building is fitted with large openings that facilitate cross-ventilation on all floors. Despite a 30 percent increase in area for the plot due to the addition, Mini Tower One requires only 12 percent additional energy, a demand met by rooftop solar panels. The roof terrace features an edible garden and provides a space for relaxation and entertainment.

The addition’s structural system uses light-gauge metal framing and 'mini-beam' concrete slabs. The envelope is clad in recycled-aluminum panels from Morin, a Kingspan Group company, with triangular ribs that give the building a rich visual texture. 

photo_credit MODU
MODU
Caption
photo_credit Michael Moran for MODU
Michael Moran for MODU

The project is part of MODU's ongoing research focused on increasing housing density within existing 'middle housing' structures in New York City. This development strategy maximizes available Floor Area Ratio (FAR) without necessitating full demolition, making such additions accessible to long-time owners. The research identifies 1,000 multi-family residences in NYC where such a model can be applied, particularly in properties with limited zoning height, insufficient existing structures, or unstable soil conditions.

photo_credit MODU
MODU
photo_credit MODU
MODU
photo_credit MODU
MODU