A 1920s Masonry Garage Is Reborn as a Flexible Live/Work Space
Tucked away in the middle of a residential block in Buffalo, New York, Big Space, Little Space is the adaptive reuse of a masonry garage, originally built in the 1920s.
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The innovative project by designers Stephanie Davidson and Georg Rafailidis of Davidson Rafailidis explores the treatment of interior space as an ever-changing medium. The transformation of the brick-clad, industrial structure into an apartment dwelling and workshop for a local couple does not dictate specific uses for designated spaces—instead, it offers a variety of options that could trigger unexpected uses in the future, and encourage reinterpretations by different inhabitants over time.
"Big Space, Little Space does not dedicate spaces to traditional uses," explain the designers. "There is no stationary plan. The spaces are rather offerings for temporary and informal uses. The objective was to create spaces that are useful for everything and where the meaning and usefulness of each space renegotiates with each new user."
Inhabitants can retreat into the warm, insulated "Little Space" (which includes the kitchen, living room, dining room, and bedroom) during the harsh winters of upstate New York—and spread out into the "Big Space" (the generous garden, workshop, and roof deck) during the warmer months. This means that the living area can extend from anywhere between 464 square feet to 5,165 square feet, depending on the season.
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The designers avoided any materials that might read as too "residential" so that the space would not prescribe a specific use.
"The space is seen here as an animate thing with a lively past and an unknown future, where the intervention is just one of many," they explain. "The space was not ‘remodeled’ to eliminate its messy past, but rather to add to in a similar way to participants in the surrealist game, the Exquisite Corpse."