Portfolio Project Detail

Our Backyard Foad Faizi, Smith Marks, and Allen Pratt

Modularity and Adaptability
The project is conceptualized around a shared-living modular system which provides an adaptable template and economical housing solution for different communities around the US. The site’s existing structural grid forms the basis for Our-Backyard’s modular layout. The 16’ x 20’ module creates a flexible framework in which any arrangement of programmatic units can fit. There are no corridors and as few walls as possible, which allow an abundance of natural daylight to permeate all of the shared spaces.

Our-Backyard’s design aims to catalyze the cultural, social, and intellectual interactions of young professionals who are beginning their careers in Manhattan. Geared to attract those who crave analog social connections in an increasingly digital world, shared program and amenities dominate the floor space on both the ground floor and upper levels. In lieu of a typical lobby, the community’s threshold showcases the social network provided by this co-living community. Game rooms, libraries, gyms, and multi-media rooms are a few examples of the shared spaces where this thriving community of young professionals come together. The private tenant spaces are pushed to the north and south ends of the building, giving each sleeping room an exterior window. The layout encourages young professionals to develop sustainable sleeping patterns and healthy circadian rhythms as they begin to navigate the professional world.

The economic sustainability of this design is supported by an increased level of residential density, in which the size of the rentable sleeping units averages only 80 square feet. 192 beds spread across three different sleep modules—singles, doubles, and quads—provide tenants with options and help establish the base costs for rent. The minimally-sized sleeping units encourage tenants to take advantage of the shared amenities—double height spaces, kitchens with full-sized appliances, and an abundance of terraces – and to spend the majority of their time in residence interacting and collaborating with their neighborhood roommates. This builds a true social network and allows tenants to fully buy into the co-living economy.

Architectural Context
The architectural massing responds to its neighborhood context. The modulated mass dissolves as it reaches upwards and engages with the vegetated back yards of the neighboring buildings. This provides the shared living spaces with an abundance of natural light and unobstructed views to the cityscape beyond. The building’s street frontages pay homage to the flat and tall facades of New York’s brownstone homes, while the inner block mimics the randomized character of the neighborhood’s backyards.