Mini Tower One Townhouse / MODU

Mini Tower One Townhouse / MODU

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Text description provided by the architects. Mini Tower One is a rear addition and renovation of a multi-family residential building in Brooklyn. This project extends the functionality of each unit by providing flexible space for various activities. Each floor of the building is enlarged, adding areas for living and entertaining. Some spaces can be both indoor and outdoor, such as the indoor terrace and all-season room, which can be enclosed to allow residents to watch the seasons pass with views of spring rains or winter snowfalls.

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Living in Mini Tower One connects residents to urban nature and incorporates low-energy strategies to improve both indoor and outdoor comfort. The project adheres to passive house principles, featuring a high-performance building envelope to reduce energy use. However, during temperate seasons, large openings promote indoor-outdoor living, seemingly in contradiction to passive house design. In fact, the building is airtight during peak heating and cooling seasons but open to the outdoors in temperate weather.

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Mini Tower One is designed to enhance environmental thresholds. These spaces can passively cool outdoor air before it enters the building, thereby reducing energy use for air conditioning. Mini Tower One’s threshold areas—ranging from an indoor terrace to an all-weather room—mitigate air temperature and reduce energy use while creating experiences that extend indoor and outdoor environments. Together, the roof terrace, featuring an edible garden and an existing tall birch tree in the rear yard create experiences with nature.

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The client project has led to urban planning research conducted by MODU. The Mini Towers research identifies additional sites for multi-family additions in New York. This community-focused development strategy maximizes available FAR without requiring full demolition. The developments are particularly suitable for properties with limited zoning height, insufficient existing structures, or unstable soil conditions. The research identifies lots in the city that allow for increased density of existing ‘middle housing,’ making additions accessible to longtime owners while addressing issues in neighborhoods undergoing rapid gentrification.

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