MERGE Architects is an emerging architectural practice in which the work uncovers and capitalizes on opportunities for invention in the ordinary. MERGE Architects works closely with their partners to produce an architecture that embraces the art of making within a larger agenda: to re-define the urban and social boundaries of the city. And, MERGE is in the process of opening a new office in Detroit right near City Modern and Pullman Parc!
HP Homes: We are lucky to have partnered with you for Brush Park’s City Modern and Lafayette Park’s Pullman Parc. Tell us a little more about your involvement with these communities.
MERGE: We had the fun opportunity to design the City Modern Carriage Homes and the Parc Homes in Pullman Parc!
HP Homes: There’s so much buzz about HP Homes building in Detroit. In terms of architecture, what are the differences between City Modern and Pullman Parc?
MERGE: They are very similar as the Pullman Parc Parc Homes design is a derivative of the City Modern Carriage Homes design, both being contemporary architecture and the townhouse typology.
The roofscape of both the Carriage Homes and Parc Homes function as the ‘fifth’ façade. The playful composition of the Pullman Parc series of shed roofs can be perceived from above as well as at ground. Both designs create double-height spaces within the homes and opportunities for roof decks and city views. In addition to the roof design, some differences include access points to the units and cladding material. Just as in the City Modern Carriage Homes, the internal courtyard divides each Pullman Parc Parc Home from its neighbor.
HP Homes: Tell us more about your process to plan each community’s design.
MERGE: With all our projects, we like to get to know the site and and its history. We research precedent studies and work through conceptual ideas via hand sketches and three-dimensional modeling. We determine the general massing of the building design by how it responds to its urban context, adjacency, and programmatic needs. We continue to test the scale of the massing and its parts (such as windows), material palette, and spatial qualities, through continued three-dimensional modeling and line drawings of floor plans and sections.
HP Homes: What was the inspiration behind each community?
MERGE: At City Modern, we were inspired by the historical carriage house and clover motifs found in the adjacent historical houses. We wanted to re-imagine the function of the traditional carriage house alley as not just a vehicular path but one of placemaking: social moments through stoops and balconies that reinforce the public aspect of this corridor. The perforated clover-patterned screen of the upper level hugs the corridor and is designed to maintain the intimacy of a traditional alley.
At Pullman Parc, the separate pedestrian corridor sets up a distinct front of the unit along the green space. This influenced the placement of entry doors, garage doors, and overall plan layouts that concentrates the living space on the front side. The beautifully-charred wood, shed roofs, and varied facade bring a lively, unique identity to the Parc Homes surrounding the green space.
HP Homes: What do you think City Modern homeowners will like most about the design?
MERGE: The courtyard that divides each Carriage Home from its neighbor. While these courtyards provide outdoor space to some units, they provide cross-ventilation and abundant natural light deep within the floor plan of all units. All living spaces have access to air and light from two directions and a large portion of bedrooms can be naturally cross-ventilated with windows on two sides.
HP Homes: What do you think Pullman Parc homeowners will like most about the design?
MERGE: The beautifully-charred dark wood siding on the main body of the building. The rich hue of the material is complemented by the lighter wood siding that clads the balconies and porches facing the community green space.
HP Homes: Why did you partner with HP Homes?
MERGE: We’ve enjoyed collaborating with HP Homes! HP’s open-mindedness to new ideas and willingness to try alternate solutions have been significant in our joint effort to bring contemporary design and architecture to downtown Detroit.