The apartment building of the future is here, and it looks like a giant battery | Inga Saffron

The apartment building of the future is here, and it looks like a giant battery | Inga Saffron


If you crossed a D-volt battery and the Death Star, you might get something that looks like Front Flats, the latest apartment project from the architect-developers known as Onion Flats. That’s meant as a compliment, by the way. Jammed against the Market-Frankford El on the Kensington-Fishtown border, the four-story building doesn’t just resemble a power plant, it functions as one, too.

Apart from the ground floor and a few narrow openings for windows, every inch of the exterior is encased in a sarcophagus of indigo-colored solar panels. The panels are designed to produce enough electricity to feed all of Front Flats’ 28 apartments, and still have plenty of juice left over to send a sizable amount back to Peco’s grid.

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Front Flats sits in the shadow of the Market-Frankford El, just south of Broad and Norris. The ground floor is faced in Corten steel, which will turn red over time.
MICHAEL BRYANT / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Front Flats sits in the shadow of the Market-Frankford El, just south of Broad and Norris. The ground floor is faced in Corten steel, which will turn red over time.Architect Tim McDonald on the roof of Front Flats, which is shaded by a large solar panel array.
Front Flats bumps up against two elegant, early 20th century bank buildings.
MICHAEL BRYANT / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Front Flats bumps up against two elegant, early 20th century bank buildings.This drone photograph shows the building under construction next to the El in Kensington.


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