Amity Street Residence by Selma Akkari and Rawan Muqaddas
Amity Street is a design-led development project by Selma Akkari, in collaboration with Rawan Muqaddas. Located in the historic Cobble Hill district, the Brooklyn apartment sits on the 4th floor of a stone building built in 1910, overlooking a lush tree line on a quiet cobblestone street at the corner of Amity and Clinton. The charming apartment hadn’t been touched since the ‘60s maintaining a sense of character that the duo decided to build on.
Longtime friends and Pratt Architecture classmates, Akkari and Muqaddas, found themselves aligned with a similar belief- that in architecture and design, a space embodies the idea of building beautiful designs that are made to last, and ensure that integrity and aesthetics take centre stage. After obtaining her Bachelor in Architecture from Pratt Institute, Selma Akkari started her career in New York, where she worked on various hospitality and residential projects. From big architecture practices, and designing ground-up buildings to smaller boutique studios crafting intimate spaces, she learnt from working in different environments and various project scales. Her design approach is guided by the understanding of construction and detail, with a focus on exploratory research and a passion for creating spaces that enhance the human experience. She explores the balance between minimal yet warm design. Rawan Muqaddas made London her base after graduating from Columbia graduate school of planning and preservation (GSAPP). She is currently working on residential and hospitality projects between London, New York, and the Middle East.
The Amity Street collaboration came about after a developer approached them with a unique vision in mind for a complete gut renovation of the unit. The plan was to enhance the value of the property through a sustainable design lens that maintained a high-end aesthetic. The New York City market being quite competitive, meant the space needed to cater to a new wave of Cobble Hill buyers looking for homes – smart and innovative planning was crucial.
Akkari and Muqaddas focused on the process from conception to delivery, starting with careful attention to detail through drawings, to selecting the right consultants and contributors to get on board. The duo was adamant about working with design-savvy creators and artisans, prioritizing women-run and local businesses for the project the two call their first.
An escape from the busy Brooklyn streets, the heart of the home was carefully curated. Keeping the kitchen airy and open, it was conceived as part of the living space with an emphasis on the long marble shelf in place of upper cabinets. The shelf topped by two sconces serves as a backdrop showcasing the honed purple-green veined marble. The layout then allows the fridge to be tucked away from the dining room, leaving it unseen. The bedrooms were perceived as a moment of serenity with integrated open shelves and an ensuite walk-in closet and bathroom. An operable skylight was introduced in the second bedroom, allowing even more light to flood through the 16-window corner apartment. With adaptability in mind, an alternative floor plan was conceived, allowing the addition of a 3rd bedroom with minimal construction. The living space then remains open, boasting the two historic bay windows overlooking Amity Street.
The designers saw potential centred around the building’s legacy. A dialogue of opposites was the main theme behind the creation; minimal but warm, understated, yet rich. This idea was materialized through the pairing of an aluminium-clad kitchen against a traditional rounded arch, and hand-made ceramic tiles against soft contemporary lighting. A warm colour palette was deployed to unify the spaces by way of gentle oak floors, cream-hued walls that contrasted with dark stone, and stained wood inset bookshelves.
‘A dialogue of opposites was the main theme behind the creation; minimal but warm, understated yet rich.’— Akkari & Muqaddas
In order to bring the space to its full life, the duo called in The Somerset House for a staging collaboration. With an innate connection aesthetically and energetically, their vision of bringing together a culmination of different cultures and eras from Italian and Danish Modern mixed with a sprinkling of Baroque and Primitive influences quickly transformed the space.
‘Selma’s extreme attention to detail and mix of materials really attracted us – it was apparent there was an immediate synergy between the both of us. The arched entryways, and an open airy layout, immediately felt would pair beautifully with our curated offerings which brought in some warmer textures, tones and patina to the space.’ – Alan Eckstein, founder The Somerset House
On a back-drop of refined details and a mixture of materials, Somerset introduced warmer textures, tones, and patina to the space, in a modern yet warm and unique space that feels design-centric but also intimate and inviting.
‘With Selma, the partnership was completely collaborative which is something we value and allows for the project to evolve in an organic way.’ – Alan Eckstein