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Working Man's House

Matthew D. Emerson

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314 Cambridge St.





Designer as Owner


  • General Contractor: Greensaw

Project Status


Year Completed



70 sq. feet

Construction Cost

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Project Description

As part of a long term renovation of an occupied 750 s.f., 1907 brick rowhome in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia, the architecture / interior design trained owners gutted (and recycled) the 70 s.f. kitchen. Desiring a community supporting and sustainable-minded approach, emphasis was placed heavily on sourcing and utilizing local services and low impact material sourcing as much as possible. The builder, green roof installer, materials and salvaged wood supplier all reside/operate their businesses in Northern Liberties. Existing appliances and cabinetry were saved and sold for re-use.

After selective demolition, the original structure was repaired and augmented with framing salvaged from movie sets to support a 70 s.f. extensive green roof. The envelope was refitted using R-19+ insulation in the floor, wall and roof framing. A large Energy Star glass door, operable skylight and enlarged opening to the main house increase natural light and air to both the kitchen and main floor. The cabinetry was custom designed and built using locally sourced, reclaimed cypress from nearby Kennett Square mushroom beds, with boxes made from FSC- certified plywood, finished using water and soy based oils. The countertops were fabricated from reclaimed oak library tables. Because the kitchen is a one story addition, the green roof is visible from upper floor greatly increasing its visual appeal while providing much desired sustainable benefits. Other items used for the fitout include: USA made 50% recycled content floor tile, LED lighting, low-VOC paints, Energy Star appliances and an in-cabinet compost bin.
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