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Work, Rest and Play from a Fire Station

The achingly cool Fire station conversion in New York City is the work of the creative agency StyleMood. Right in the middle of the island of Manhattan, the building is described as a Habitas ‘clubhouse’. However, this three-storey gem is no repository for studded leather armchairs and moustachioed gentlemen reading the court circular. Instead, according to its creators, every inch of space has been turned into somewhere ‘liveable’. And they have really met their brief. In the heart of one of the most frantic corners of the world, it is a haven of cosiness and tranquillity. Whilst every surface and every texture has clearly been fastidiously designed, the overall effect is one of gently chaotic ‘homeliness’. Leather sofas lounge next to coffee tables sprinkled with comic books. A vintage Steinway balances a couple of framed architectural photographs. Carefully scruffy shelves balance the sort of ethnographic collections that might have been brought back by somebody’s great-uncle back in the time of the colonies. It is a building of interiors that defy easy pigeonholing, but certainly inspire a sensation of relaxation, comfort and timelessness.

However, this beautiful space is more than just a triumph of interior design, and more than just a cosy place for a sit-down with a complicated-sounding cup of coffee. Beyond the Buddha statues and eclectic aesthetic lies a collection of extraordinarily flexible functions. Yes, any visitor to a clubhouse would expect a library, and they would not be surprised to be greeted by a library of lifestyle magazines as soon as they encounter the front reception desk. There’s also a wet bar, and no clubhouse would be complete without refreshment. So far, so familiar. But the second floor starts to hint at rather more creative thinking. Here, there are break-out rooms, a screening room and a lounge area designed for enjoying music. The next floor up, there is an area designed for ‘wellness’, and if the Yoga or Tai-Chi really chills you out, you can head for one of the ‘sleeping pods’ to catch a few Zs. By now, if you haven’t found a space where you can either relax, co-work in comfort or spark your own creativity, then you’re not really trying. And when you reach the roof, there is a ‘seasonal space’ and a fire-pit. It’s a little difficult to imagine what the building’s original occupants would have made of that.

Posted by: Josh Seddon

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