(Brooklyn, NY) Designed by Brooklyn based nARCHITECTS - the award-winning firm, founded by Principals Eric Bunge and Mimi Hoang, that was behind New York City’s first micro-unit building – A/D/O provides a groundbreaking new kind of space for designers.
A/D/O: A New Platform for Designers
A/D/O was founded by MINI as part of the company’s own design practice and continued exploration of innovations that improve urban life and provides a new kind of platform for designers, aiming to foster a broader conversation across and beyond disciplines.
Occupying a former warehouse at the intersection of Norman and Wythe Avenues in Greenpoint, the new space is open to the general public, combining spaces for events and exhibitions, design education, free communal workspace, a fabrication lab, a restaurant, and a design shop. The building also hosts Urban-X, an accelerator founded by MINI and SOSV, which supports startups working on products and services to improve urban life.
nARCHITECTS' Design: “Remix” of Old and New
Reflecting the role of A/D/O in actively encouraging the cross pollination of creative ideas, nARCHITECTS’ transformation of the 23,000sf building was guided by a principle the architects refer to as remixing. According to nARCHITECTS Principal Eric Bunge, “This idea of remix - which we applied to both the physical building and its program - involves placing existing and new conditions into varying and often ambiguous relationships.”
“Rather than simply dividing the existing warehouse into various zones for different activities, or, on the other hand, creating a continuous and undifferentiated space,” says Bunge, “We chose to create variable connections between gastro, event, design, exhibition and retail spaces. Neither rooms nor an open hall, the spaces kind of bleed into each other, allowing people who are curious to see what would normally be going on behind closed doors.”
The architects’ principle of remix extends to the physical transformation of the formerly opaque one-story building. “Some aspects of the existing building have been maintained,” Bunge continues, “while others have been rebuilt in ways that make it sometimes initially unclear which part is new and which part is old. In other places we have sought to create tension or contrast between existing and new conditions or between different materials.”
The “Porch”, and Reconstituted Graffiti
One example of this intentionally ambiguous approach to remixing can be found in the new “porch” at the main entrance. A triangular section at the southwest corner of the building was removed, replacing an opaque facade with full glazing that invites passersby, and offers wide views down Wythe Avenue from within. While this intervention is clearly new, nARCHITECTS has rebuilt the building's modified outline using the original graffiti covered bricks, resulting in what they now refer to as “reconstituted graffiti”. This approach was also taken with the many new apertures that have been introduced into the existing façade. “What was really important to us,” says Principal Mimi Hoang, “was to create a project with rich layers of history – of the building, and of the community.”
Leading from the entrance is a large communal area that unifies all of A/D/O and connects the main entrances to the building as well as the outdoor court to the north. “The design of the space emerges from a kind of urban approach, in which we want the street and public to flow through the building,” says Bunge. “It's a very democratic space that welcomes the public to engage in design in ways they might not be accustomed to.”
The Periscope: Brooklyn/Manhattan Skyline Remix!
A central feature of nARCHITECTS' design is a large kaleidoscopic periscope that reflects both the Brooklyn and Manhattan skylines, joining these together into a single horizon - a remixing at an urban scale that visually and metaphorically brings the city together and into the space. “We wanted to create a new perspective on the changing city around us,” says Bunge.
The Restaurant within A/D/O
Fredrik Berselius (Aska) and Claus Meyer (Great Northern Food Hall and Agern) are partnering with A/D/O as co-restaurateurs to open the restaurant, bar and café within A/D/O. nARCHITECTS' approach to the design of this 160-seat restaurant extends the idea of remix, by contrasting newly inserted elements with the rough existing brick walls. A zig-zagging “curtain wall” allows the restaurant to be closed off from the public space during events. The architects have remixed inside and outside by removing the roof over part of the building and replacing it with an open steel frame, resulting in an outdoor dining and event space.
nARCHITECTS' Custom Furniture for A/D/O
Extending the principle of remixing, nARCHITECTS has designed custom reconfigurable furniture for the project, including the large X-shaped modular “Crosstalk Table”, the “Pie Lounger”, functioning as both seating and a stage; the “Design Library” bleacher seating, and custom tables throughout the restaurant. The flexible nature of this furniture allows these free-flowing spaces to double as platforms for A/D/O programming.