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Ipe Goes Urban

Thirteen stories above the streets of New York City one might expect to find only steel and concrete. However the architects at Hariri and Hariri had something else in mind with the idea to bring nature into an urban space when they melded the warm tones of ipé (Tabebuia spp.) with man-made elements, traditionally associated with urban architecture, for a 522 square-foot Harlem Terrace.


Photography/ Riley & Riley    Photography/Karin Kohlberg 

"The project was inspired by Central Park and the concept of nature in an urban environment,” says Gisue Hariri, one of the principal architects of Hariri and Hariri, the New York City-based firm headed by a pair of internationally acclaimed architects, who happen to be sisters. “Its form is the continuation of our exploration of crystals, folds and fractal geometry. Like all fractal objects, each part resembles not only the other parts, but the whole, metaphorically connecting to nature or the cosmos.” 

Architects and designers are finding new uses for exotic woods for both indoor and outdoor spaces. Increasingly, they are being used as ceilings or vertical surfaces as shown by this beautiful Harlem Terrace project.

The 13th floor location offers magnificent views of Central Park and the New York Skyline, while the four and a half foot railings create an enclosure on three sides, providing privacy from the neighbor’s adjoining terrace.

The terrace floor plan covered in ipé wood folds and becomes vertical walls and roof in some parts. Walls become seating and hold planter boxes within them. Lighting is incorporated within the structure allowing for indirect ambient light in the evenings. This continuity and fluidity of structure, space and material allows the terrace to feel expansive, yet have different areas for covered dining, sun bathing, or simply enjoying the view.

From the living room looking out at the terrace, it appears as a large installation and a work of art that catches the light and shadow, making you forget you are 13 stories above a busy city street.  

Copyright© 2011 by the International Wood Products Association. Published by Bedford Falls Communications, Inc. and circulated to an audience of 20,000 architects, designers, distributors, manufacturers, and users of imported wood products in North America.


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