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Schenk, Kim, and Peeradorn Kaewlai (their friend and tenant) outside X-Small, the final piece of Schenk and Kim’s design puzzle, and hopefully their new home. Windows are strategically placed to maximize light and privacy.

Four Houses and a Future, Winner of Young Architects Forum, Architectural League of NY 2007 outside X-Small, the final piece of Schenk and Kim’s design puzzle, and hopefully their new home. Windows are strategically placed to maximize light and privacy.

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A view of Small from the front which connects to Medium by way of a translucent Polygal corridor.

The final piece to the residential compound, XSmall, what the hell is this is, three rotated 16-by-22-foot boxes with four-corner-skylights, giving rooms natural light with minimum windows and maximum privacy, something that is all too important when there are four houses on just two lots, especially when the designs draw as much attention as they do.

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The wooden stairwell in the center of X-Small provides a pivot point from which the rest of the house rotates. The floor is Carrara marble bought from Olympia Marble and Home Depot.

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The house is finished in marine plywood, usually used in boat-building. The grain is broad and pronounced, creating the appearance of a huge piece of furniture. Each floor of XS has a different look and feel (marble on the first floor, oak plywood on the second), but all are connected by a pared-down wooden staircase that threads through the space.

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Schenk, Kim, and Kaewlai chat outside of X-Small, standing on the reclaimed wood used to build the boardwalks that connect all four properties. The translucent corridor connecting Small and Medium illuminates the common space throughout the evening.

The design&development project is located at a quite residential area near Boston where most of housing is built in worker?s cottage or New England style. To meet the extremely low construction budget and tight zoning regulations, materials and forms are born of necessity and pragmatic functionalism with low cost design.

Instead of hiring contractors, we undertook our own construction to show that with the most basic building materials and skills, clever plans can make something interesting. For instance we bought many DIY books, spent hours on the Internet researching affordable materials (cork flooring, Polycarbonate, plywood, left-over marble tiles), and spent weekends and nights doing most of the work ourselves.

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Medium’s master bedroom is outfitted with a claw-foot tub.

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Schenk discovered native flagstone in the basement of Large when they tore away the old wood wall lining, and fell in love with its rough and cool exterior.

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The overgrown boardwalk leading up to Medium’s entrance feels more Martha’s Vineyard than North Cambridge.

XS Size: 990 square feet (2 bedroom, 2 bathroom) The final piece to the residential compound, XS, what the hell is this is, three rotated 16-by-22-foot boxes with four-corner-skylights, giving rooms natural light with minimum windows and maximum privacy, something that is all too important when there are four houses on just two lots, especially when the designs draw as much attention as they do.

The house is finished in marine plywood, usually used in boat-building. The grain is broad and pronounced, creating the appearance of a huge piece of furniture. Each floor of XS has a different look and feel (marble on the first floor, oak plywood on the second), but all are connected by a pared-down wooden staircase that threads through the space.

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The two hardest-working architects in America aren’t licensed architects—or American-born for that matter. Beat Schenk and Chaewon Kim first gained recognition in 2004 when, in the shadow of the Harvard Design School (Kim’s alma mater), they took a traditional New England worker’s cottage, weather-washed shingles and all, and transformed it into a two-story Cor-Ten steel–and–polycarbonate A-frame (see "New Beginnings," March 2005). The controversy that ensued only fueled their desire to keep building, and before the rust could set, the young married couple, who met as students at SCI-Arc, decided to expand—not because they wanted to, but because, in their minds, they had to.

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Architects : UNI Location : Cambridge, United States Architects : Chaewon Kim + Beat Schenk Area : 102.2 sqm Project Year : 2006

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Chaewon Kim and Beat Schenk are partners of the firm UNI, whitch they founded in Cambridge, MA IN 2003. A desig/bulid company, UNI acts simutaneously in the roles of architect, bulder, owner, developer, and broker, seeking innovative design solutions, while addressing economic and zoning pressuress. The firm's most recent project includes four houses - XS, S, M, L - either renovated or newly built on a small lot in Cambridge, MA, that testand explore design solution to housing problems.

UNI is a multi-disciplinary design firm founded by Chaewon Kim and Beat Schenk in Cambridge, MA in 2003. Kim and Schenk both received bachelor of architecture degrees from Southern California Institute of Architecture. Kim received her master degree from Harvard Design School. Schenk received his master degree from Columbia University and has worked at Frank O. Gehry partners & OMA.

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