Narrow house

Narrow house designed as a prototype to build on small plots

The latest installment in our Dezeen x MINI Living series features an extremely narrow house designed for a 3.9 meter wide lot in Brooklyn.


Designed by New York studio Only If Architecture, the house will use unused land between a pair of buildings in Brooklyn.

Narrow House will be located on a small lot in Brooklyn

Only If co-founders Karolina Czeczek and Adam Snow Frampton designed the house to be their family home and hope the design will become a prototype “for how to fill neglected parts of town.”

The house, currently under construction on a plot of 3.9 meters wide and 30 meters long, is designed to optimize circulation and daylight.

Only If Architecture's narrow house was designed as a prototype for construction on small plots
The site is four meters wide and 30 meters long

The architects eliminated hallways and walls with a two-level layout where each floor has a single room used for different functions such as living, sleeping and eating.

A void around the central staircase will serve as an entry point for natural light and allow air to circulate throughout the house.

Only If Architecture's narrow house was designed as a prototype for construction on small plots
Each room in the house will occupy an entire floor

The architects said using small or irregularly shaped plots of land for housing construction is a vital strategy for housing a growing urban population.

“Amid the contemporary housing crisis, infill is absolutely necessary as an urban strategy to produce greater amounts of housing,” the couple told Dezeen.

Only If Architecture's narrow house was designed as a prototype for construction on small plots
The two-level floor will create double-height spaces

The house is being built in parallel with Irregular Development, a research project by Only If that identified 3,600 unused plots of land across New York City. The results of the research project were presented at Shenzhen Biennale in 2018.

Only if it turns out that the plots were not being used because they were small, narrow, triangular or irregular in shape and therefore unattractive to large-scale developers.

“Using these vacant lots for housing, although individually on a small scale, could contribute to a much needed housing stock,” the architects said.

Only If Architecture's narrow house was designed as a prototype for construction on small plots
Floor-to-ceiling windows will provide the home with plenty of natural light

The duo also claim that building on small plots will open up experimental development methods.

“In New York, the normative production of housing favors the repetition of formulas known on large sites by large developers who commission experienced architects,” they said.

“In this sense, the housing crisis in the city could be seen not only as a crisis of quantity but also a crisis of imagination and an absence of design.”

Only If Architecture's narrow house was designed as a prototype for construction on small plots
A skylight that runs through the middle of the house will illuminate the staircase

“Narrow, small or irregular sites could encourage smaller-scale experiments by young architects and help us imagine new forms of habitat and new ways of living together,” they continued.

This film is part of Dezeen x MINI Living Initiative, a collaboration with MINI Live explore how architecture and design can contribute to a better urban future through a series of videos and lectures.


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