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TBo’s Stunning Renovation of Monroe Street House in Brooklyn

Monroe Street House, Brooklyn, USA / TBo Architecture

New York-based practice TBo Architecture has just finished a remarkable project – the transformation and expansion of a historic townhouse in Brooklyn. Nestled on a serene street adorned with beautiful trees, the Monroe Street House now offers living and studio areas for three generations of a family. The design seamlessly blends the charm of the original Federal style brick house with a stunning sunlit extension that embraces a once-forgotten rear garden.

Monroe Street House, Brooklyn, USA / TBo Architecture

Careful consideration was given to the composition of a period home that retains its historical dimensions and intimate functions in the front rooms but allows for more generous and communal zones in the rear. The narrow lot, bound on both sides by deep neighboring buildings, created a challenging set of conditions.

Monroe Street House, Brooklyn, USA / TBo Architecture

The clients had a primary concern of bringing ample light into their house. To address this, a new rear extension was constructed, which not only provided additional floor area but also maximized the entry of daylight and maintained a strong connection to the outdoors. The extension was built using a poured-in-place concrete frame and was carefully designed to occupy a modest 200 square feet footprint. This was done to ensure that it harmonized with the proportions of the original building without overpowering it.

Monroe Street House, Brooklyn, USA / TBo Architecture

Within this framework, the needs of the family were incorporated. The entire ground floor was expanded to accommodate a painting studio that opens up to a beautifully illuminated sunken garden. On the parlor level, a kitchen bay was created, which shared space with a deck for outdoor dining. Lastly, on the top floor, the primary bedroom suite took on an L-shaped layout, providing enough room for a music annex that offered panoramic views of the treetops.

Monroe Street House, Brooklyn, USA / TBo Architecture

Multiple windows and doors on every floor provide natural ventilation and a dynamic and playful facade. The clients and their young children occupy the upper two floors, while the ground floor apartment belongs to the grandparents, one of whom is a painter. The grandparents desired a light-filled studio that would double as an art making space and play space to care for their grandchildren.

Monroe Street House, Brooklyn, USA / TBo Architecture

The brick arcade between the kitchen and the new studio is a remnant of the original building and creates a porous passageway highlighting the transition between the old and new structures. The ground floor studio is excavated to increase the ceiling height and allow for a seamless flow into the garden — its new concrete floor is poured and polished to a low sheen and the gravel texture that is revealed in the floor is echoed by the pea gravel garden patio just outside, binding the spaces together.

Monroe Street House, Brooklyn, USA / TBo Architecture

The extension acts as a transitional zone between the original house and the garden, creating gentle oppositions and offering a versatile set of spaces with functional complexity. The house features a palette of natural, raw, and minimally treated materials which will allow them to patina and age gracefully in place. The poured concrete frame is left bare and the smooth breathable lime plastered walls contrast with the existing brick building, while the expressed concrete structural arrangement is repeated and reinforced in the deep Doug fir ceiling beams running across the dining bay. The new rear facade is coated with a simple blend of rough and smooth stucco treatments, framing the interior views.

Image courtesy of Matthew Williams