The suburbs, with their narrow definition of what constitutes a ‘house,’ can be an uninspiring place for poets to live. New York-based firm Para-Project decided to flout arbitrary conventions of suburban architecture with a rectilinear white writing studio squeezed between two typical homes, an unexpected visual for the Syracuse neighborhood. The poet’s studio literally glows at night, transcending its much more traditional setting.
Designed for two poets who own one of those homes, Haffenden House takes its visual inspiration from Ice House II, a 1972 installation by artist Gianni Pettena that achieved a similar effect by coating an abandoned home in water in the middle of the freezing Minnesota winter.
The clients wanted an airy, light-filled space with minimal distractions that could function as an escape from the bland surroundings of their residence. Para-Project covered the structure in a translucent silicon-impregnated fabric skin and created a bowl-shaped division between the second and third levels to let in natural light and provide a curved reading room.
The writing studio includes a garage and breezeway on the ground level and a library and writing space on the second level. An in-ground tub looks out onto the backyard through a large glazed wall for the ultimate relaxing reading experience.
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“The project finds itself within the suburban realm, referencing Gianni Pettena’s Ice House from 1972, like a blank spot within the repetitive image of ‘house.'”
“The poet’s studio uses a translucent silicon-impregnated fabric skin for a light-filled writing room without the visual distraction of the suburbs. Inside the blank box, between the second and third levels, the section uses a bowl-shaped division, maximizing indirect light for the second level and avoiding any association with the landscape on the third.”
“PARA Project is an office for architecture based in New York City. We see each project as a collaborative effort between a wide range of constituents, guided by the specific needs and curiosities of diverse clientele. PARA works on projects of varying scales and media: from commercial, institutional, and residential work, to events and international competitions.”