Studio J. Jih and Figure Reimagine a Boston Townhouse


From the street, a townhouse built in 1892 in Boston’s South End comes across as stately but unassuming. But inside the 15-foot-wide, 4-story volume, another world emerges: the narrow house has been completely redesigned, rebuilt and redone from the bricks. While the space is finished with rich materials and details – whitewash plaster walls, a travertine island and a white oak spiral staircase – its realization also offers important notes on co-authorship and creativity. .

The project client approached J. Jih, who runs Boston-based Studio J. Jih, after seeing a sculpted roof deck they made using Japanese, screwless joinery. The design “revealed a level of detail and consideration for comfort and body requirements that appealed to him,” Jih said. AN Interior. They invited Figure, a San Francisco-based office run by James Leng and Jennifer Ly, to join as collaborators. The trio met in school, at Harvard GSD, and were looking for a chance to work together professionally.

To begin with, the most pressing problem was the staircase, which occupied the inner third of each floor. The team tested new configurations in which desirable rooms got bigger and secondary spaces got smaller; these larger rooms—the kitchen, living room, and bedroom—were later moved to the back of the plan. Here, the architects added new openings to this south-facing facade, resulting in a grid of tall, split windows that illuminate the interior.

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