After completing architecture school at Universita’ di Napoli, Italy, Ada Tolla and Giuseppe Lignano fell in love with New York City, deciding in 1995 to establish an innovative firm in Manhattan called LOT-EK. Early experiments in the art world grew into a substantial architecture practice, but their philosophy has always been the same: Both Ada and Giuseppe are focused on a concept they call “up-cycling,” taking existing objects and elevating them through art, design, and architecture. The firm has done its most innovative work re-using shipping containers and received a wave of attention this year for a Brooklyn residential project that utilized 21 shipping containers in surprising, stunning ways.
The firm has just released its second monograph, LOT-EK: Objects and Operations, a photo-heavy showcase of dozens of projects the firm produced around the world over the past 15 years. “LOT-EK is a design practice that believes in being unoriginal, ugly, and cheap,” the book states. “Also in being revolutionary, gorgeous, and completely luxurious.” With 6sqft, co-founder Giuseppe Lignano talks about the early days of running a firm and waiting tables in 1990s New York, explains the firm’s philosophy behind sustainability and re-use, and discusses the inspiration behind their notable Williamsburg project.
This way for the interview
When MB Architecture‘s client requested an art studio near her Amagansett home, she had three requirements–a roughly 900-square foot space, a simple structure that was still “inviting and reflective,” and a limited budget. To achieve these goals, the firm decided to use two recycled shipping containers, about $2,500 each.
See how it panned out
It would hardly raise an eyebrow to note that the Brooklyn couple behind the wildly popular Williamsburg barbecue joint Fette Sau hired an architect to build them a 25-by-100-foot home on a corner lot in the neighborhood. But in this case, the architects are Ada Tolla and Giuseppe Lignano of the firm LOT-EK, which means the house in question is likely to cause at least a few double-takes. Rising from that corner lot, this remarkable single-family residence was made from 21 steel shipping containers, tamed and transformed into a sleek and surprisingly livable home.
See more of this unconventional home of corrugated steel and glass
, Mon, September 26, 2016
When college students arrive to the big city they often bring with them dreams of glamorous apartments, but they soon get hit the reality of a cramped dorm room covered by student loans or an awkward apartment shared with several strangers. Over in Denmark, where 40,000 beds are needed to accommodate an exploding student population, Kim Loudrup realized the enormity of the student housing shortage (inventory and affordability) and partnered with the country’s prodigal son Bjarke Ingels on a new, sustainable student housing design made from floating shipping containers. Called Urban Rigger, they hope this modular idea can extend to other waterfront cities and even solve other housing problems like the refugee crisis.
Could this idea take off here?
, Mon, September 19, 2016
There’s plenty of cool shipping container architecture that’s popped up around the city in recent years, from a retrofitted carriage house to the home of a radio station. But the title of first (legal) home built entirely of recycled containers goes to this architectural gem in Williamsburg, made of six stacked containers totaling 1,600 square feet. The lovely, 320-square-foot ground-floor apartment is now up for rent through Airbnb for a surprisingly affordable $96/night.
See the whole place
File this under kooky design schemes that actually work. Inhabitat NYC profiled a Clinton Hill carriage house completely transformed by a shipping container tower built inside. The homeowners, artist Markus Linnenbrink and art dealer Cindy Rucker, were on the hunt for an architect who could renovate with as many sustainable elements as possible. They picked the design firm LOT-EK due to their specialty in shipping container buildings. The result? A container tower that serves as the core of this retrofitted carriage house, and many more repurposed details throughout.
Check it out
An independent online radio featuring live DJ sets, located in a shipping container on an empty piece of land on the Williamsburg/Greenpoint border — if your inclination is to roll your eyes at just how Brooklyn this is, you might want to reconsider.
The Lot Radio was founded by 34-year-old Brussels native François Vaxelaire, who has been living in the neighborhood for the past three years. After passing by the vacant triangle day after day, and growing more and more infatuated with its strange beauty, he decided it would be the perfect home for an online radio similar to those in Europe. And after getting through the city’s red tape, Lot Radio is officially up and running, save for its adjacent coffee shop and outdoor seating area that are both awaiting permits from the Department of Health.
What’s most interesting about Vaxelaire is that he is committed to steering clear of the Brooklyn cliches. His goal is to grow an internationally focused, New York-based radio, but in terms of the physical location, he wants local residents exiting the nearby church to feel just as welcome hanging out as would an experimental music aficionado. 6sqft recently visited him at the shipping container to learn more about this very unique idea.
The full story from François
We’ve seen Manhattanites do all kinds of crazy and creative things to maximize space—from turning their ovens into closets to lofting entire rooms—but the Guzman Penthouse by LOT-EK is one of our favorite transformations.
To expand this penthouse residence, LOT-EK revamped an old mechanical room, added a 20-foot shipping container to serve as the master bedroom, and created a spacious rooftop patio, all of which sit on top of the building with jaw-dropping Empire State Building views.
You can’t miss the rest of this one-of-a-kind home
At first glance, there’s nothing particularly unique about the facade of this white brick townhouse, but take a second look and you’ll see that there’s more to the building than meets the eye. Upon closer inspection, you’ll notice that the protruding bay windows aren’t made from ordinary frames, but from sections of stainless steel truck bodies.
The recycled windows are a signature of LOT-EK, the studio that owners Lawrence and Alice Weiner hired to re-do their Greenwich Village townhouse. Founded in 1993 by Columbia University grads Ada Tolla and Giuseppe Liganano, the New York and Naples-based firm has become known for its sustainable approach to construction and architecture, namely the use of upcycled steel containers.
More photos of the inside here