This article is part of our latest Design special sectionAbout the space inspired by nature.
From time to time, when life changes, so does your home. Or at least that was decided after Atsushi Aizaki, the founder of the architecture and design company Crème, started his family.
In 2010, before he became a parent, Aizaki bought a two-family townhouse in the Williamsburg district of Brooklyn, but it was poorly maintained and began to collapse. “Things were literally patched with duct tape,” said Aizaki, 49. “The canopy was supported by 2×4 and there were holes everywhere in the roof. Even if people lived there, it wasn’t really comfortable to live in.”
Aizaki, who designs restaurants such as Red Farm and L’Amico in Manhattan and hotels such as Hyatt Centric in Philadelphia, paid over $ 500,000 to refurbish the studs. He put on a new roof. He bought a large amount of redwood recycled from an old New York water tank and milled it to create internal features such as custom tubs and bookshelves, as well as external siding. He dug into the backyard and added an extension that expanded it from about 2,500 square feet to 3,000 square feet, creating space for the sunken patio under the new deck.
After 10 months of construction, it was completed. Aizaki and his newly-married wife, now 40-year-old artist Fanny Arie, moved to a 1,500-square-foot apartment that occupies the first second floor and rented a unit of the same size upstairs.
For years, the apartment looked perfect. Then, in 2017, the couple had a son, Luka, and everything began to change. Aizaki decided that the house could use more family-friendly features.
To open up a dedicated space for Luka, now five years old, he turned a large closet into a tree-like bed with a loft bed that reaches from the hatch. The exterior walls of the room are covered with the wood of the reclaimed aquarium left by Mr. Aizaki in the original renovation, and the interior is covered with spray paint whose ceiling changes from pink pink to dark blue. -Dark star stickers create a simulated night sky. Under the bed, there is a playground covered with artificial turf, which gives the impression of an indoor park.
“I just wanted to make something really fun,” says Aizaki. “It’s a small space, but it encourages him to use it.”
Indeed, I was looking forward to most of the design change guidelines. Aizaki looked back on her childhood memories and imagined the elements that made her excited when she was young. That’s how he came up with the idea of designing and building three copper speakers that meander between the two levels of the apartment to enable remote conversation. One tube connects from the living room to Luka’s bedroom, the other from the living room to the bathroom, and the last tube from the kitchen to the main bedroom.
“In this era of Siri and Alexa, it’s totally low-tech,” Aizaki said. “We play games or just talk. And when he has friends, that’s what they do first.”
Aizaki also drilled holes in the tiled walls of the main bathroom and added small ribbed glass windows to the wooden turntable to ensure privacy when needed. It also acts as a memo, toiletry, and toy pass-through. “That’s kind of funny,” he said.
Along the way, he made some whimsical changes. He added a layer of plywood siding to the ceiling when the family needed more soundproofing between their kitchen and upstairs neighbors. When he got tired of the original kitchen, he made a new kitchen cabinet door from the wood of an additional surplus water tank. Recognizing that the family spent most of their time in the kitchen, he also added a steel island and placed a butcher’s block counter on it, made of more water tank wood.
However, what inspired Mr. Aizaki the most was the playful project.
When he first bought the house, he planted cherry saplings in the backyard. With a trunk diameter of about 10 inches and strong enough to hold the structure, he recently built a tree house containing a bucket in a pulley system for raising and lowering toys and snacks.
“When I was a kid, I wish I had played all these things,” says Aizaki. Luke is now benefiting from his father’s imagination and lives in a house that Aizaki described as “a little like a dream home.”