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Domestic Ribbon

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Armed with a masters in architecture from Columbia University and only 3 years in the field, architectural designer Alan Y. L. Chan renovated a wreck of an apartment in an early 1900s building on the Upper East Side. The second-floor walkup was just over 400 square feet, with three rooms divided by light-blocking partitions.

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  The apartment, measuring just over 400 square feet, opens into the kitchen, which architectural designer Alan Y. L. Chan outfitted with a Dornbracht faucet and a sink of his own design. The black steel backsplash doubles as the back of a built-in bench on the other side. A concrete “ribbon” serves as the main design concept and the countertop, and continues throughout the apartment. A built-in LG refrigerator is located just across the concrete floor at right. Image courtesy Brian Riley.
    The apartment, measuring just over 400 square feet, opens into the kitchen, which architectural designer Alan Y. L. Chan outfitted with a Dornbracht faucet and a sink of his own design. The black steel backsplash doubles as the back of a built-in bench on the other side. A concrete “ribbon” serves as the main design concept and the countertop, and continues throughout the apartment. A built-in LG refrigerator is located just across the concrete floor at right. Image courtesy Brian Riley.
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  Chan completely gutted the apartment—which had been divided up into three dark, cramped rooms—and utilized the existing footprint for the bathroom and kitchen, but left them open. He also uncovered many layers of paint to find the original exposed brick. It took Chan a year and a half to complete the project while working full time at an architectural firm and devoting his Saturdays to the apartment. Image courtesy Alan Y. L. Chan.
    Chan completely gutted the apartment—which had been divided up into three dark, cramped rooms—and utilized the existing footprint for the bathroom and kitchen, but left them open. He also uncovered many layers of paint to find the original exposed brick. It took Chan a year and a half to complete the project while working full time at an architectural firm and devoting his Saturdays to the apartment. Image courtesy Alan Y. L. Chan.
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  The kitchen has a Miele cooktop, oven and hood, as well as a small seat before a double-hung window, one of very few natural light sources in the apartment. The concrete ribbon continues into the adjacent bathroom, becoming part of the bathtub and counter. Image courtesy Brian Riley.
    The kitchen has a Miele cooktop, oven and hood, as well as a small seat before a double-hung window, one of very few natural light sources in the apartment. The concrete ribbon continues into the adjacent bathroom, becoming part of the bathtub and counter. Image courtesy Brian Riley.
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  A view of the bathroom and kitchen from the main living area; the front door is at left. At right is the bench of fabricated steel, from Master Kitchen Supplies (212-533-2356). Set into a recess (with Häfele hardware) separating the maple flooring and the concrete ribbon, near left, is a table that can be used for dining, or rolled across the apartment for use as a work surface. Chan left some exposed brick on the load-bearing wall to retain what he could of the apartment’s original character. Image courtesy Brian Riley.
    A view of the bathroom and kitchen from the main living area; the front door is at left. At right is the bench of fabricated steel, from Master Kitchen Supplies (212-533-2356). Set into a recess (with Häfele hardware) separating the maple flooring and the concrete ribbon, near left, is a table that can be used for dining, or rolled across the apartment for use as a work surface. Chan left some exposed brick on the load-bearing wall to retain what he could of the apartment’s original character. Image courtesy Brian Riley.
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  Floor-to-ceiling maple sheathes the storage cabinets and the bottom of the Murphy bed, at right. The concrete ribbon continues as a window seat before becoming a desk.
    Floor-to-ceiling maple sheathes the storage cabinets and the bottom of the Murphy bed, at right. The concrete ribbon continues as a window seat before becoming a desk.
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  The Murphy bed in its pulled-down state is backed by mirrors from Sergi's Images Mirrors & Glass to help bounce light from the north-facing windows around the apartment. A cabinet hung at the upper left provides more storage.
    The Murphy bed in its pulled-down state is backed by mirrors from Sergi's Images Mirrors & Glass to help bounce light from the north-facing windows around the apartment. A cabinet hung at the upper left provides more storage.
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  When rolled across the apartment, the table serves as an extension of the concrete desk, partially tucking underneath to extend the work surface and create an interplay of materials. “Each part must serve multiple functions,” says Chan.
    When rolled across the apartment, the table serves as an extension of the concrete desk, partially tucking underneath to extend the work surface and create an interplay of materials. “Each part must serve multiple functions,” says Chan.
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  Chan outfitted the bathroom in marine fir plywood from Rosenzweig Lumber for its resistance to high-moisture environments. The fixtures are from Vola; the bathtub, countertop and sinks are of magnesite. The full-height glass is stationary except for a sliding door at left, and a curtain can be rolled down for privacy.
    Chan outfitted the bathroom in marine fir plywood from Rosenzweig Lumber for its resistance to high-moisture environments. The fixtures are from Vola; the bathtub, countertop and sinks are of magnesite. The full-height glass is stationary except for a sliding door at left, and a curtain can be rolled down for privacy.
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  The new, open floor plan, with the concrete ribbon highlighted in pink, incorporates much-needed storage along one entire wall, and highlights the introduction of the moving table, the improved flow of space and the simple yet architecturally harmonious layout.
    The new, open floor plan, with the concrete ribbon highlighted in pink, incorporates much-needed storage along one entire wall, and highlights the introduction of the moving table, the improved flow of space and the simple yet architecturally harmonious layout.

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