Towards a New Collective



[Above] The connectors that originate from the existing building's extruded stairwells and link to the addition's hallways can become additional communal spaces, customizable by the residents of each floor/area of the collective.

Advanced Studio

PartStudio Collective

Critic Laura Peterson

Fall 2019

Rhode Island School of Design, Department of Architecture

"Spaces of live and work have largely been flattened by market-driven compartmentalizing typologies. Attempts of “co-living” and “co-working” are developed only in the name of speculative markets, continuing to distance our cities from any meaningful forms of collectivity.

Architectural interventions of the 20th century, ascribed with social and environmental qualities, have gradually faded into misuse. Where vestigial organs are parts of the body that once had a function but are now more- or-less useless, vestigial architecture parts were once integral in orchestrating environmental and social conditions, subsiding with the introduction of modern systems into misused or nostalgic devices."

– PartStudio Collective, Manifesto (Rhode Island School of Design, Fall 2019)

Project Brief and Vision

100 artists have self-initiated the development of a property at the intersection of Brooklyn and Queens in New York City with the aim of developing a social, building and financial model that represents their core values as a community. In turn the building on site is to be designed in such a way that its spaces influences their work through these shared values. Architectural parts and their performative role are the underlying structure for organization and programatic organization. The decision whether to use, demo, or adaptive reuse the existing building will relate to the artist’s social, building and financial vision.

Inspired by German Baugruppen, co-designed post-familial communes, the building aims to give both residents and designers agency in its construction and programatic organization.


[Above] 49 Ash Street and the existing industrial building on site


[Above] The site (A), located at the intersection of Brooklyn and Queens in New York City, is adjacent to the Newton Creek (B), the Pulaski Bridge (C) and the industrial area of Greenpoint (D)


[Above] The ground floor of the building features (from L to R) a storage and archiving section for books and artwork, a library and research/presentation center and a gallery/event space serving both the makers in the building and the general public.


[Above] A typical planometric layout of the addition built on top of the existing structure (using the existing circulation cores as connectors between the addition and existing structure.) The units, arranged in a C shape and overlooking a communal maker space situated on the second floor, can be selected by the residents as the building is constructed.

All communal functions (leisure, cooking, cleaning, ...) happen at the far end of each floor in large-scale communal areas that overlook the Creek.


[Above] and [Below] Units designed for the building have a surface area of 300sqf (approx. 30sqm) and use the architectural parts of the bathroom and balcony to create differing living conditions. The unit types (from L to R) include units with an extruded bathroom-balcony hybrid,) a disrupting off-center free standing bathroom core with a pentagon balcony and a similar arrangement in which the bathroom has been rotated 90° clockwise. The units are designed in such a way that the stacking of them can generate opportunities for play, compromise whilst still making sure that the structural needs of the wet walls are acknowledged.


[Above] 1/32"=1'-0" model designed to explore the overall massing of the site alongside the relationships between the existing structure on site and the addition proposed on top.


[Above] Sectionally, the building uses the central courtyard typology to allow the concrete floor slabs to appear lighter within the context of the communal spaces. Additionally, the large-scale skylight placed in the center of the roof allows for natural overhead light to illuminate the maker space on the second floor.


[Above] Construction detail for unit windows


[Above] Communal spaces, designed to be large-scale and open to all residents of the building, become congregation points as well as places for work and play. The units, on the other hand, become moments of respite and relaxation, providing a condition of collective living that acknowledges individual needs and their spatial manifestations.

The section illustrates all three unit typologies, alongside the maker space and the archives/library.