Desai Chia Architecture designed this loft for a photographer who was seeking a serene live-work environment. The 5,000 square foot industrial space was fully renovated to include a library/reception area, living and dining areas, a kitchen, a photo studio, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a powder room, and ample storage space.
The existing industrial building has a cast iron column structure. Desai Chia created an open flow throughout the home, taking advantage of long axial views through the space and drawing light through. The wall planes act more like sculptural screening elements while letting light and space flow around them. Concealed pocket doors provide privacy when needed.
The client asked Desai Chia to design a home that would serve as a work space and gallery for her photography while also providing spaces for entertaining with friends. A library/reception area immediately off of the entry vestibule allows her to meet with gallerists, present her work, and have her collection of research materials on hand for discussion. The reception area serves as a hinge for two distinct zones in the loft: the east zone flows directly into the 'private' domain of her photography studio and back to her private bedroom, while the south zone flows into the 'public' domain of her kitchen, dining, and living areas. A new wide plank oak wood floor connects all of these areas. The oak planks are used on the wall paneling and cabinetry, unifying the rooms with a warm texture.
The living area, kitchen, and dining area create an ensemble that is cohesive and very adaptable for a range of entertaining. Windows on two sides of the room bathe it with light. Additional folded and recessed lighting coves on the ceiling anchor the seating areas and wash them with a warm glow at night.
Desai Chia crafted raw steel, satin aluminum, solid oak, and white resin design features throughout the loft. They are designed as minimal art moments as much as they are functional elements for storage, dining and work areas. For example, the steel kitchen island has ample storage & seating areas, while maintaining a sculptural presence in the room - it serves to frame the kitchen in an artful way. The white resin work tables in the photography studio have a similar presence: they are both functional for work, yet also visually compelling. The wall planes in the photography studio are cleverly sheathed in white magnetic panels to allow the client to easily display and reposition her work.
The bathrooms were designed as an immersive chamber of light and striated stone, a soothing respite from the intensity of the city. The walls of the bathrooms are finished in waterproof resin, which provide a singular surface that is both luminous and very easy to maintain. Custom resin sinks, shower areas, and niches for toiletries were fused into the bathrooms to create a seamless and fully integrated concept.
Inspired by the art of James Turrell, Desai Chia designed several lighting strategies to enhance the architecture while giving form to the light. By cutting and folding the ceiling planes, Desai Chia was able to gently bounce light into the living areas, kitchen, bathrooms, and library. Even rooms that do not have windows feel airy and luminous. The extensive use of LED lighting allows to reduce energy costs while providing strong architectural lighting throughout the home.
Team Leaders / Principals
Katherine Chia: Desai Chia Architecture
Arjun Desai: Desai Chia Architecture
New York, NY
Mechanical: Rodkin Cardinale Consulting Engineers
Lighting: Christine Sciulli Light + Design
Contractor: Noranda SP
Photography: Paul Warchol
Desai Chia Architecture’s Photographer's Loft has received a 2017 AZ Award in the category Residential Interiors.
About Desai Chia Architecture
Desai Chia Architecture celebrates conceptually bold design, deliberate eloquence, and graceful simplicity in order to improve collective experiences of space and place-making. They solve rigorous design problems for institutions, organizations and private clients, driven by their guiding principle that architecture can transform communities. The studio is known for two things: their preference for social and humane architecture, and for iconic projects that benefit from sustainable, technical strategies and extensive knowledge of materials.
Rooted in their multidisciplinary background, Desai Chia Architecture seeks to blur the boundaries between building and nature through their hallmark approach of integrating light as a unifying theme. Each design opportunity is informed by previous projects and expertise, which allows the latitude to conduct new research, challenge traditional expectations, and ask bigger questions in order to build inspired and spirited architecture. They nimbly navigate each step of the building’s design and execution: from the conceptual framework uniquely inspired by each client, through thoughtful, agile and tenacious project management, to the final construction. The results are distinct, evocative, sustainable and enduring buildings, customized for a range of collaborative experiences that address each client’s particular needs.