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Polish-American duo among the world's best young studios! Success of Karolina Częczek and Adam Frampton of Only If

Ola Kloc
07 of June '22

It is with great joy that we observe the international successes of domestic female architects. A few days ago, news reached us from across the Ocean that the Design Vanguard award was given to the Polish-American duo from the Only If studio - Karolina Częczek and Adam Frampton. Congratulations!

Design Vanguard is a distinction that has been awarded for more than twenty years by Architectural Record, an American monthly magazine dedicated to architecture and interiors founded in 1891. The annual award is presented to the best young studios from around the world, and this year's edition honored offices from Chicago (Kwong Von Glinow), Massachusetts (Group AU), London (Freehaus, Erbar Mattes), Toronto (Ja Architecture Studio), Vancouver (Leckie Studio), the Chinese city of Hangzhou (Line+) and New York (CO Adaptive, Worrell Yeung and Only If).

The award winners, Karolina Częczek and Adam Snow Frampton, founded the New York-based studio in 2013, having previously gained years of professional experience at OMA 's offices in Rotterdam and Hong Kong.

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Narrow House

photo: Ivan Baan

Karolina Częczek is a graduate of the Faculty of Architecture at the Cracow University of Technology and the Yale School of Architecture, a Fulbright Scholar, winner of the Winchester Travel Fellowship, a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania and Yale, among others, and an adjunct professor at the University of Kentucky College of Design and the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning. When asked what (in three words) architecture is to her, she pointed to: openness, clarity and timelessness. You can find more of the architect's answers in our "10 Questions to..." series here.

Adam Snow Frampton is a graduate of Princeton University, an adjunct professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation (GSAPP), and has taught at Parsons School of Design and Syracuse University, among others. His work has been exhibited at four editions of the Venice Biennale, the Shenzhen, Rotterdam and Sao Paulo Biennials, the Lisbon Triennial and, among others, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in New York.

Narrow House

Narrow House, Brooklyn

© Only If

The architects combine design, academic and research work on a daily basis - over the years they have worked on the design of more than eighty affordable housing units for seniors in Brooklyn, and one of their best-known experiments is New York's Narrow House - a narrow custom home completed last year, built on a plot just four meters wide (and just over 30 meters deep)! The duo is now mainly creating projects in the United States, including winning the "Big Ideas for Small Lots" competition for residential designs on troublesome lots in New York.


cross section

© Only If

Many of these narrow and irregular lots represent the unfortunate legacy of urban revitalization through demolition and the phenomenon of urban abandonment in the 1980s and 1990s in favor of suburbs. The potential for new buildings to fill urban "gaps" raises the question of how to fit 21st century housing into an early 20th century architectural context. The Only If project fits into the context of its neighbors by proposing a typical New York City front staircase, with its social function in public and domestic life, and matching the brick pattern and texture to the neighboring facades. At the same time, the design and organization inside the building correspond to contemporary building requirements and housing needs, the architects explain the competition concept, " Inside, thedesign avoids infrastructure elements of larger buildings, such as the elevator, resulting in an efficient and compact transportation core. This, in turn, leaves more space for the layout of seven different apartments, ranging from micro-studios, a studio with a mezzanine and a studio with a roof garden, to one- and two-bedroom apartments. This combination is expected to create a stronger community of diverse residents. The interior width of each apartment is four meters. Against intuition, we proposed "thickening" one of the side walls as a zone with built-in elements of prefabricated furniture, cabinets, kitchens and stairs. This layout of the space preserves the uninterrupted plan of the apartment, maximizing access to light and air and reducing visual chaos, they add.

wizualizacja tarasu na dachu

visualization of the roof terrace

© Only If

This is not the first prestigious award to the credit of the {tag:pracownie} studio. - Two years ago, the duo was included in Domus magazine's list of the 50 best architectural firms.

Listen to Karolina Częczek's conversation with Lukasz Harat in the series Awakenings, in which the architect talks, among other things, about the experience gained in Rem Koolhaas' studio.

compiled by:
Ola Kloc

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