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Subtractive House, Brooklyn, NY

Sun Path Diagram and Area of "Subtraction"

Study Model



The Subtractive House retains the exterior form of a 19th century Park Slope brownstone. A sky lit double-height space was carved from the interior of the building to respond to a young family's desire for communication between floors and to allow natural light to penetrate the interior. Through a process of strategic removal, the house was reduced in square footage while simultaneously expanded in terms of spatial volume and openness to light. The renovation appears 'in process’ as layers of history are evident and highlight a sense of the building's past.

The new arrangement promotes family intimacy. The house was reorganized to locate the kitchen on the main floor as the heart of family life, and the bedrooms arranged to overlook the central double-height dining space. An original pocket door with decorative etched glass connects the master bedroom to a reading balcony overlooking the central family living space.

Material was repurposed wherever possible. Construction debris was reduced by salvaging floor joists, cut and planed to make the wooden lath used in new walls and guardrails.

“a response to cosmetic design
completion through removal
completion through collapse
completion through emptiness”
-Gordon Matta Clark

Completed 2008
AWARDS: Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce: Building Brooklyn Award 2013
PROJECT TEAM: Timothy Bade, Jane Stageberg, Martin Cox, Prashant Prabhu, Andrew Skey