AR House Shortlist: A sleek house in Japan does away with obtrusive structural supports
Soon after she moved into the Farnsworth House, Dr Edith Farnsworth complained how she felt like an animal inside its glass walls, ‘always on the alert’. Kenneth Frampton called such a home the ‘reducio ad absurdum of the notion of a dwelling’, and yet there is something about these see-through box houses that always beguiles – at least from the outside. It is hard not to reflect on what it is to dwell when all is on display.
If Frampton thinks Farnsworth House reductive to absurdity, then what of Suppose Design Office’s Hiroshima Hut, which lacks even columns supporting the roof? Rather than making the residents feel like animals, the reason for such transparency here is in fact to encourage interaction between the residents and wildlife. The walls are not glass but in fact acrylic – chosen for its insulative properties – atop which sits a lightweight roof.
Raised on a small gravel hill, the living areas are sunken into the ground, allowing for the see-through concept to be achieved without sacrificing too much privacy. The open, ground floor space is divided into more fluid zones through the use of wire mesh, which allows for an articulation of space without obstructing the view through the building.
Surrounding these mesh-encased spaces are the more rigid, square sunken areas, which lead further under the floor to provide storage space and maintain the pristine view. The roof overhang equals the height of the hut on all sides, enveloping it in a ring of shade for use by the residents and animals. Shunning the heavier minimalism seen across this year’s entries, Hiroshima Hut is less an exercise in shelter-making than it is in framing its surroundings, to the point where it is hard to discern who, exactly, is supposed to be watching whom.
Architect: Suppose Design Office
Photographer: Toshiyuki Yano
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