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Architect turns 1870s carriage house into once-in-a-lifetime property with jaw-dropping feature: 'It feels like living in twice as many square feet'

"We're blessed to have so much light and air in the middle of busy New York."

"We're blessed to have so much light and air in the middle of busy New York."

Photo Credit: Instagram

You probably wouldn't expect to find an eco-friendly home with a tree growing inside in the middle of Brooklyn, but one architect wanted to show it's possible to live sustainably, even in the city. 

As the New York Times reported, architect Aaron Schiller and his wife Anna transformed an 1870s brick carriage house into a beautiful, climate-friendly home constructed of mass timber

This type of construction uses engineered wood, typically made of large, compressed wood panels, columns, or beams held together with adhesives, hardwood dowels, or lamination.  Mass timber has high strength ratings like concrete and steel without the consequent carbon-intensive manufacturing process, per naturally:wood

While renovating the dark, damp building had its fair share of challenges, Schiller stuck to his vision. After stripping the two-story building down to its bones, Schiller kept only the original wood beams to use as flooring and restored the brick. 

He then added a third story and roof deck for extra space and installed a skylight near the center of the building. The skylight would provide sun to the Japanese maple he planted at the bottom of an open staircase.

For the home's structural components, Schiller bought various sizes of glue-laminated wood panels and hired the prefab home builder Bensonwood to construct most of the building off-site, per the Times.

"The whole thing was put in with a crane and four carpenters, locked into place and waterproofed in seven days," Schiller told the Times. "Then they came back later and, in four days, installed the timber stair."

The home contains thick wood-fiber-based Gutex and hemp insulation and a radiant heat system that conducts heat through the floor rather than by forced air. An energy recovery ventilator allows fresh air in while removing stale indoor air. 

Passive homes like the Schiller's use natural methods of heating and cooling, such as sunlight, increased insulation, and improved ventilation, to make residents comfortable without adding heat-trapping pollution to the air from air conditioners. 

In addition to being better for the planet, these types of dwellings help lower energy bills because they are more energy-efficient

After closing on the building in 2018, the home was finally ready for the Schillers to move in at the beginning of 2023, per the Times

"We're blessed to have so much light and air in the middle of busy New York," Schiller told the outlet. "It feels like living in twice as many square feet."

"I've always wanted to be around nature, so having a tree in our house — and all these materials that are so sustainable — makes it feel like a gorgeous environment," Anna Schiller added.

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