Extended living space into a contemporary and elegant duplex

ADCO Realty engaged Kripper Studio to restore and completely re-imagine an historic Victorian-style residence and turn it into a contemporary and elegant duplex with expanded living space. The original single-family residence was converted to a two-family residence in the 1990s. Kripper Studio’s focus was to consider the potential of the entire building and to create two newly configured, modern, self-contained residences within the architectural charm of a one hundred year old Victorian-style home.

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The sensitive addition of white cladding encompassing the entire structure is the new canvas for the exterior.

In keeping the shell of the building but gutting the interiors, usable living space was created in areas traditionally used for storage – the basement and attic - resulting in two, 4-bedroom units with modern systems and state-of-the-art finishes. Built in 1910, the exterior structure still displays much of its historic character, which Kripper Studio and ADCO Realty were committed to preserving and restoring. A hallmark of Kripper Studio is the adaptive reuse of structures with a re-imagining of the interiors.

Design Approach and Solutions: Architecture

The approach to this structurally sound historic building was to consider how to sensitively update the exterior to visually imply that improvements have been made yet still be in keeping with the stylistic vernacular of the neighboring buildings. The ensuing design decisions are thoughtful and strategic. The sensitive addition of white cladding encompassing the entire structure is the new canvas for the exterior. A subtle distinctive “lip” in the cladding halfway up the height of the building becomes a wrap-around horizontal band that visually implies that there are two residences within this structure.

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The front of the building includes visual accents of Cedar on the porch spindles, cap, foundation lattice and underside of the canopy.

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At the rear of the building white eaves blend with the white cladding to allow the architectural changes to be more pronounced with black metal visual cues to what is new.

Design Approach and Solutions: Interiors

To achieve the creation of two new contemporary living spaces within an historic structure, Kripper Studio thought of a new formula for dividing and using the interior space. The guiding principles are precision, craft and an appearance of effortlessness. The architectural features and design solutions contribute to the overall aesthetic of openness, transparency and comfort, which should predominate the living experience. Bravura architecture moments are experienced with the physical action of climbing a staircase.

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The expansive openness of the First Level seamlessly flows to the Lower Level via an unobtrusive staircase.

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Upon arriving on the Second Level, which is the entrance to Unit 2, a second staircase appears to float from the Third Level.

Unit 1 : 2,565 sf [First Level and Lower Level]

The expansive openness of the First Level seamlessly flows to the Lower Level via an unobtrusive staircase. The Oak flooring on both levels continues on the risers and treads of the block-and-frame structural staircase and the 1” thick inset glass railing floats and wraps around the staircase. The Oak handrail accents and outlines this architectural moment. The only structural column is discreetly aligned with the staircase leaving the openness of the floor plan to be as flexible a living space as needed.

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Cantilevered on a steel stringer with floating treads on steel plates and open risers, the ingeniously designed staircase navigates the limited width of the space with a creative twist up the double height space.

Unit 2 : 2,386 sf [Second and Third Levels]

The main access point for Unit 2 is a new door leading from the porch to the tower, which is now an encasement for a dedicated cantilevered staircase leading to the Second Level. In keeping all the windows of the tower but removing the division between the previous floors a natural light-filled entrance is the opening note to the living experience. Cantilevered on a steel stringer with floating treads on steel plates and no risers, the ingeniously designed staircase navigates the limited width of the space with a creative twist up the double height space. Custom glass risers and an Oak handrail add to the floating effect. An example of precision and craft, the staircases in Unit 2 exemplify the goal of bringing precision and craft to the interior architecture elements. The newly introduced skylight provides a dramatic natural light source for the stairwell leading to the Third Level.

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The architectural features and design solutions contribute to the overall aesthetic of openness, transparency and comfort, which should predominate the living experience.

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The guiding design principles are precision and craft as seen in the choice of materials and fixtures.

About ADCO Realty

ADCO Realty specializes in the construction of high end multiple unit residences with a focus on historic restoration work. In 2019, ADCO was awarded the preservation award from the City of Cambridge in recognition of restoration work completed at 11-13 Hilliard Street in Harvard Square. ADCO Realty is influenced by both traditional architecture and modern design to transform residences into stunning properties that anyone would be proud to live in.

About Kripper Studio

Kripper Studio is an architecture and design firm dedicated to creating community, stewarding natural and cultural resources, and improving personal wellness through its crafting of space. Using the vocabulary of modernist architecture as a guide, Kripper Studio’s diverse residential and commercial projects express respect for local conditions, to heighten users’ appreciation of landscape and neighborhood. The firm consistently advocates for environmental-performance strategies that add value to clients’ investment.


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