Archipelago Courtyard

terrain-nyc: The Archipelago Courtyard at 560 State Street provides a safe and quiet respite directly adjacent to one of the most congested intersections in Brooklyn. Located at the intersection of several major avenues and across the street from a sports and entertainment arena, thousands of pedestrians pass the modest set of buildings surrounding the courtyard each day. On the street, a mix of commercial tenants and a hodgepodge of architectural styles present a typical, if disjointed, Brooklyn streetscape experience. However, inside this unassuming street front, the courtyard unifies residents’ entry experience while creating a place for community and interaction.

Residents of 560 State Street pass through the courtyard on the way to their individual units, making for a communal entry experience where people of all ages gather and interact. Children roam the courtyard freely, playing games with their building-mates, while parents casually check in, gazing down from windows above. Older residents prepare dinner at the outdoor kitchen, then pull up a table along one of the raised platforms for an intimate meal. Increasingly rare in the neighborhood, the courtyard acts as flexible, multi-generational space for the entire building to use and enjoy.

A simple pairing of raised brick and timber islands, with integrated honey locust trees, lighting, and timber seating provide just enough structure in the courtyard to define and create a hierarchy of spaces. A field of banded, brick paving flows between the islands, creating both intimate areas and circuitous routes for children to run, bike, and skate.

The design required a deep restraint in terms of programming, while finding the right balance of structure and open space. The timber islands act as comfortable seating, play space, and shade canopy at once. A deliberate and durable craftsmanship is still visible in the fine timber, metal, and brick detailing as the courtyard ages gracefully.


Project name: Archipelago Courtyard
Landscape architect: terrain-nyc
Year completed: 2010
Size: 6,200 square feet (575 square meters)
Location: Brooklyn, New York, USA
Structural engineer: Old Structures Engineering
Architect: Thomas Fenniman Architect
Timber fabricator: Site Craft Inc.

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