Now this is one heck of a design constraint! A super narrow and super long trapezoidal lot in Tokyo, that is further constrained by setbacks from the property lines. Nothing like that kind of limitation to get the creative juices flowing, and the resulting lantern of a house is one nifty solution.
It’s cool enough on the outside, but to really get what’s going on within I find a section through the building tells the story the best:
The big move is to place most of the living spaces underground where the setback didn’t apply, thus maximizing the available width (still only about 10’ wide!). A long and linear (ok, natch, how could it be anything but long and linear on this property?) kitchen occupies the middle of the basement, with a living room up front and the washroom in back. Upstairs is the bedroom with (again) a linear hallway leading to the back door. What makes this all work, however, is that the building skin is made of translucent panels, and the floors above are of metal mesh, allowing light to suffuse and penetrate all the way down to the basement living areas.
Unfortunately, I can’t find any photos looking towards the living room or the bedroom area, which is too bad as those are likely some of the most powerful places within the house. But the experience of being in this luminous cathedral-ceiling like house has got to be pretty neat no matter where you are.
I love it, a great example of taking something that seems unusable and turning it into something of wonder. Great work.
Lucky Drops by Atelier Tekuto
There’s something that I quite like about this train station in Dinan, France. Built in 1879, it’s got this interesting mix of old school form, art deco-ish ornament, and some clean lines of modernism, all wrapped up into one. And check out that rotated clock tower – you don’t see that very often! Complete with ornamental bas-relief bells and a spare but bold design of the clock itself.
The delight continues inside too… check out that serious corbelling of the ceiling in the corners, at the base of which is a light? Now that’s neat. And the classic map along the upper band, with art-deco touches beneath.
I learned of this station through an adjacent new welcoming platform which is in of itself interesting. A wood lattice canopy “supported” at one end by two earthen forms (one conical, one more amorphous) that recalls the medieval construction the region is known for. Also with bonus trees that grow up and through the canopy above…
What a glorious assemblage! Old and new, in many senses of the words, brought together to serve the rails.
La Garre de Dinan, old station designed by Georges-Robert Lefort and new canopy by Fouquet Architecture Urbanisme.
They say California is in love with their cars… which leaves lots of extra car and road bits around… so why not get playful and use them into your architecture?
Road signs for fences and railings and siding, hatchback glass for awnings, station wagon tails for a a gate, plus repurposed sheet metal and more!
Something fun by Leger Wanaselja Architecture
I like this, a building ‘rescued’ from it’s intended undifferentiated glass box origins, taking the raw concrete frame and building something that is more in tune with its context and the environment in which it sits. With colour, pattern, and plenty of greenery, it is at once nicer to look at, nicer to be in, and nicer to the planet.
The whole idea is quite clever in a rather logical way. The side of the building that sees the most sun in this hot and humid environment houses the stair core and other utility elements, creating a buffer to keep heat and glare out. The other two sunny sides are surrounded by open-air balconies, two of which are encased in a colorful set of scrim, shifting in geometric patterns to create openings out of which plants poke their leaves towards the sun. The other two levels are protected by the overhang and more potted plants.
Heat and glare are kept out, and you’re working next to a little garden oasis. Even more so when you open the sliding doors and let the breeze flow through. As a supreme bonus, check out the little reading nook, nestled into the walls throughout!
Sweet work. A building that could have been a pillbox that instead found life as a nifty object that’s lush and creates a wonderful space inside, all while needing less energy to run. That’s what it’s all about.
MGB Headquarters by Spacefiction Studio
What do you do when an old building in a dense urban area finds itself ready for new tenants? Especially when that building is now surrounded by much taller and larger buildings, and there is a premium on developing new space? As much as I love adaptive reuse, sometimes the pressure to densify argues to do something more. An “easy” solution is to incorporate the existing building – or at least the existing façade – into the new one, often as a base for a new high-rise.
And then there’s the opportunity to do something much more radical.
The above project is, alas, only a concept piece and the land owners aren’t gong forward with it… but what a concept! Beyond just making more commercial space, this idea was to take the over-a-century-old building and turn it into a cultural and art facility, doubling its floor area by literally mirroring it. The result would have been this double-take inducing, water-like, reflection of the building hovering over the existing one.
What a mind trip!
Though, not a complete mind trip, as there would have been an additional new element added to the rear to house further facilities and, nicely, another stage facing an adjacent park. So from certain angles that would have ‘broken’ the illusion. But who cares, from so many other angles, even if you caught a glimpse of the rooftop canopy shell the illusion of the inverted building would’ve remained strong and kept all its ‘woah’ factor.
Again, alas, not to be, but one damn cool idea.
Station C Queen West Art Centre by Paul Raff Studio
A play of light and shadow, a patter of falling rain, a breeze that flows throughout, and a house that organizes itself around a covered courtyard pool, with geometric perforated concrete panels that lets all the above happen.
And geometric boldness pretty much rules the day all throughout the house. There’s lots of cool stuff going on, as the house pulls and stretches this way and that to catch the light or a breeze. Or to catch a tree, embracing a towering royal palm tree that becomes another courtyard.
The great hall, no surprise, is really the centerpiece, opening without barrier to the pool with the three skylights (two angled to catch the morning sun, the other to catch the evening) being just the beginning as the concrete screen above the pool further lets the light dance about. As a bonus, the cross-ventilation from this open screen above the pool, plus those on the front and back of the house, keeps it cool and pleasant and lets everyone be late into the evening before any lights need to be turned on.
Great designs embrace their context, and this house does so in spades. Great work, and looks like a very fun place to live.
Casa Delpín by Nataniel Fúster
Ah, here’s another cool project (this one for a small coffee shop in Japan) that inhabits the space underneath a railroad bridge/trestle. Nestled under one of its many repeating arches, it’s exactly what it says on the tin. Patinaed concrete, rich exposed brick, and a double curve of the arched ceiling and concave back wall.
Nifty, and a nice complement to the Arches Project and to the Vans complex (both in the UK) which also inhabit under-rail spaces.
Blue Bottle Coffee Chiyoda City by Schemata Architects
National Art Gallery in Ottawa, Canada
Architecture by Safdie Architects, garden by Cornelia Hahn Oberlander
(by Tadao Ando, though I’m not sure where; if you know the building, please comment below!)
It’s funny, I’ve just been musing about a little backyard studio, and this one pops up on my radar out of nowhere . I don’t have as large a property… or a hill… so it wouldn’t work as a template for my place, but there’s plenty to enjoy in this whimsical little addition.
It pretty much speaks for itself, with its arched windows and scalloped railing for the nice little roof deck to give it a ‘secret garden’ vibe. The ceiling within curving upwards to meet a large linear skylight is unexpected and noteworthy however, bringing ample light to suffuse the interior in a powerful glow.
Pandemic WFH office, art or writing studio, or just a fanciful little retreat, nice and simple but anything but boring. Cool stuff.
Stiff Peaks by Byben & Skeens