Designed by AMNP’s current ‘Ninja(s) of the Month‘, EASTERN design office, the Slit House is a 210 square meter reinforced concrete home in Japan. Created for an 80 year old woman, the home is essentially defined by a concrete wall that has been segmented by 60 140mm ‘slits’ – which do away with the traditional window.
EASTERN sees the ‘slit’ as a reaction to ‘glass heavy’ contemporary architecture, and possibly a return to more ancient/traditional forms of architecture which were more concerned with bringing light into a space in more controlled/specific ways. Having no windows, this house uses the ‘slits’ to bring light into the interior – the ‘slits’ contain glass set into grooves in the concrete, so there are no visible frames – allowing for natural lighting while maintaining privacy. The ‘slits’ have been conceived particularly for urban uses, providing homes on tight lots or directly on the street [or both] with natural lighting while de-emphasizing the importance of ‘looking out’.
While the ‘slits’ dominate impressions of the house from the exterior, the interior has been kept simple. Wooden walls have bee used throughout, allowing for the space to be reorganized over time – as either uses or occupant(s) change over time. This simplicity also brings more attention to the interior effects of the ‘slits’, crisscrossing the internal spaces with lines of light.
This spacing of he concrete panels also turns the home into one giant timepiece, to some extent – tracking light and shadows throughout the day.
At the dawn, watery light comes into the house through the slits. That makes the entire room bright faintly.
At 9:30AM,sequence of the feeble light that reflects to header of slits appears.
At 10:30AM, the sunlight pierces through angled slits at first. At 11:00AM,the sunlight pierces through all slits. The sunlight through the slit and the reflected light on the header of the slit project the stripe of V type to the long corridor. If you saw the repetition of this edgy light, you might feel as if time of 11:00AM has stopped. In as much as ten minutes, the reflected light on the header disappears. The shape of the light that the slit makes changes from V type into one stripe. The moments that the sun pierces through the angled slits and through the straight slits are different.
The angled slits get a little earlier. The momentary time lag let us feel a running of the sun and makes us forefeel the upcoming time of the dusk. And it shortens little by little. And watery light fills the house again with soft brightness.
Then the night comes before long.
Next we’ll be back with the next installment of this current ‘Ninja(s) of the Month’ feature – Horizontal House.
::photographs by Kouichi Torimura::
::images, info + quoted text courtesy of EASTERN design office, Inc::
“You employ stone, wood, and concrete, and with these materials you build houses and palaces; that is construction. Ingenuity is at work.
But suddenly you touch my heart, you do me good, I am happy and I say, “This is beautiful.” That is Architecture. Art enters in.
My house is practical. I thank you, as I might thank Railway engineers, or the Telephone service. You have not touched my heart.
But suppose that walls rise toward heaven in such a way that I am moved. I perceive your intentions. Your mood has been gentle, brutal, charming or noble. The stones you have erected tell me so. You fix me to the place and my eyes regard it. They behold something which expresses a thought. A thought which reveals itself without word or sound, but solely by means of shapes which stand in a certain relationship to one another. These shapes are such that they are clearly revealed in light. The relationships between them have not necessarily any reference to what is practical or descriptive. They are a mathematical creation of your mind. They are the language of Architecture. By the use of inert materials and starting from conditions more or less utilitarian, you have established certain relationships which have aroused my emotions. This is Architecture.”
~ Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture
Check out this collection of futuristic architectural visions by architect / artist Iakov Chernikhov. It’s always been really interesting to me that ‘futuristic’ architecture in the early 20th century was so focused on this idea of bridges between towers – especially since it’s something that we don’t really do that much, and still see [it seems] as progressive.
Anyways, Chernikhov’s images are DOPE. Enjoy.
[vimeo width="492" height="277"]http://vimeo.com/7218371[/vimeo]
I linked to this great list compiled by the Architects’ Journal of the 10 best comic book cities a while back, but I just came across this video [I think it's new?] and thought it was worth mentioning a second time – if only so people will check out some of these comics.
[image: BBC Scotland interior, David Chipperfield Architects]
“Simple. Britain gets the architecture it deserves. We don’t value architecture, we don’t take it seriously, we don’t want to pay for it and the architect isn’t trusted… We are a country that values money and individualism. Architecture becomes glorified property development, not valued culture. Ten storeys? Try for 20. Squeeze in more bedrooms. That’s British architecture.”
~ David Chipperfield, in response to the Times of London asking “So why was the ‘building that has made the greatest contribution to British architecture in the past year’ not British? For the second year running, too. Four of the six buildings on the Stirling shortlist were foreign, while the two that actually were on British soil were really rather tokenistic in comparison.”
Rachel Armstrong: Architecture that repairs itself?
Venice, Italy is sinking. To save it, Rachel Armstrong says we need to outgrow architecture made of inert materials and, well, make architecture that grows itself. She proposes a not-quite-alive material that does its own repairs and sequesters carbon, too.
Rachel Armstrong is a medical doctor, multi-media producer, science fiction author and arts collaborator. Her current research explores architectural design and mythologies about new technology. She is working with scientists and architects to explore cutting-edge, sustainable technologies.
Armstrong’s hope is that, in the future, cities will be able to replace the energy they draw from the environment, respond to the needs of their populations and eventually become regarded as “alive” — in the same way we think about parks or gardens. Since “metabolic materials” are made from terrestrial chemistry, they would not be exclusive to the developed world, and would have the potential to transform urban environments worldwide.
Basically, this woman is working to put us all out of work…
::Video Sundays is a weekly feature here on AMNP. For more architecture-related videos, click on any Sunday in the sidebar calendar, or on the “videos” category in the archjutsu section. And don’t hesitate to submit suggestions for video features to architecture[at]myninjaplease[dot]com::
AMNP is happy to announce the newest edition of the Ninja(s) of the Month feature – where a firm / designer is selected for an extended look at their work over the course of several weeks – EASTERN design office.
EASTERN design office has its base in Kyoto and acts in Japan and China. The name of EASTERN implies “architects from the east”.
Founded in 2003 by Anna Nakamura and Taiyo Jinno, EASTERN is a Kyoto-based 4 person firm [currently]. You may have seen their work elsewhere on the web, as their home designs are pretty incredible and make for great eye-candy. In particular, their work is based on an exploration of an architectural element they call the ‘Slit’ – which is basically exactly what it sounds like, a break of some sort in the form being created. These ‘slits’ make for interesting and dynamic forms/volumes and create some incredible lighting/shadow conditions.
We create the architecture with “Slit”. We seek a design possibility of “Slit”. It is an architectural technique since ancient times. But “Slit” is now our design method to change an aspect of contemporary architecture.
Six projects in total will be featured over the next few weeks – giving you a better idea of this ‘Slit’ idea that they use as a major design element throughout their projects, and hopefully some insight into the work of this young and talented firm.
Come through next week for the first project we’ll feature by EASTERN, Slit House.
Artist NOSIGNER has teamed with Tokushima Wood & Bamboo Industrial Cooperative Society Confederation to create a new wood furniture brand named ‘AWA’. Three of these new pieces were recently unveiled at DESIGNTIDE TOKYO 2009, and are featured here.
When Tokushima was once called the country of Awa, the tradition of wood furniture was initiated by ship builders. Thus, AWA decided to go back to its Tokushima woodworking roots to form this new and yet traditional project to bring Japan’s wood working culture into the future.
I think the dopeness of the projects speaks for itself – nothing like some Japanese minimalism and beautiful wood to create an awesome project. Here’s some info from NOSIGNER:
Cartesia stands for the “Cartesian coordinate system”, that is translated into a structure of drawers that have the capacity to open in two directions. This special quality makes it especially suitable for room corners. The new type of system that can open the different cases at the same time,?is a fundamental shift from the traditional modus operandi. The characteristic form of Cartesia, an inverted trapezium, is related on a rationally based design that implies handles.
Imaginary is a table that refers to the mathematical term of “imaginary number”. It includes an invisible drawer that allows to hide our cutlery and documents.
UNIT is a series of interior, that is made of the same specification. Combine the chair and the law table. They transform into a bench. Confine the stool and the chair. They become a low table. This series is a flexible interior solution that can be used in numerous ways.
“Considering the special requirements of women of all cultures and all ages, special attention has been given, to provide the sports village with a feeling of intimacy and well being often lacking in the more masculine industrial-style sports complexes that are more like factories for physical exercise, than temples for body and mind.”
~ Bjarke Ingels, BIG
It seems like you can’t go more than a week or so without hearing that BIG has won another competition – this time, they’ve partnered with AKT, Tyrens and Transsolar to design the 100,000 sm World VIllage of Women Sports in Malmo Sweden. Being touted as the first of its kind, the village will be a “natural gathering place for the research, education and training in all areas connected to the development of women’s sports”.
The project has been designed as a village – rather than an overpowering sports complex – in an attempt to address the scale of the surrounding neighborhood. Sloping roof lines and staggering volumes hope to enforce this ‘village’ feel – along with terracing gardens and open public space, all connected with internal streets animated by public functions.
These sloping forms surround a large central hall large enough for a professional football [I think they mean soccer] game – which can also serve as an auditorium, performance space, conference or exhibit area, etc, etc.
Rather than being an introverted sports arena shut off from the surrounding city – it appears like an open and welcoming public space, visible from all of the surrounding streets – generously offering its interior life to the passers-by. The pedestrian network around the main sports hall plugs into the surrounding street networks as well as the interior galleries of Kronprinsen, turning it into a complete ecosystem of urban life.
“The WVOWS fuses high levels of ambition within public space and private accommodation, living and working, health and recreation, sport and culture. Like a village rather than sports complex it merges the modern utopianism of the neighboring Kronprinsen with the intimate scale and specificity of the nearby historical city center of Malmo.”
~ Bjarke Ingels, BIG
I’m kind of feeling the design – although at this point, it’s very reminiscent of a number of other projects by BIG. That said, they seem to have tweaked their rendering style a little bit – and I like it. Just a thought.
::all images, info + quotes courtesy of BIG::
[Image: Kyle Belcher handing out info sheets to Solar Decathlon visitors, via]
Mid-week during this year’s Solar Decathlon AMNP had the opportunity to speak with Kyle Belcher, one of the project managers from Team California. A recent graduate of California College of the Arts, Kyle was involved in varying capacities from inception to the final construction and display of Team California’s solar home – named ‘Refract House‘ – which placed 3rd overall in the Decathlon.
ArchitectureMNP: To start things off – could you give us an idea of how the design process worked, and how it differed from a ‘typical’ architecture program / design studio?
Kyle Belcher: With an architecture curriculum, you usually take one project per studio and so we had to be a little bit flexible as you wanted students with a background in the project to continue – but we couldn’t just take all their architecture studio projects away from them just so that they could work on the project. So what ended up happening was that we had a schematic design studio, where 16 students each had an 800 SF solar powered house to design. At mid-terms of that semester an independent panel of architects and engineers critiqued these students, and choose 4 schemes to move forward. Those 16 students then broke up into 4 groups of 4, and at the end of the semester one project was chosen as the direction to go in. I was in that studio and my scheme was one of the 4, but it wasn’t chosen – and I thought that was going to be the end of my Decathlon.
There was then a summer studio elective that took that initial concept and produced a basic drawing set for the department of energy. A couple of days into that studio I actually got a call from the faculty member in charge at that point on the architecture side, and was asked to be his research assistant to help finish that process. So I came in to help lead the student effort on producing those drawings. At the end of that process, we had completed a basic set of about 25 pages – and I was then asked to continue on as on of the project managers. For the rest of the summer we had 4 architecture students that received a stipend to continue working on the Decathlon.
At that point we were working more closely with the engineers [from Santa Clara University], starting to develop the project from the engineering side, talking about what systems we wanted to use. Another architecture studio of 16 new student then helped develop those drawings further, and continued on to construction drawings. Of the 4 students from the end of the summer only 1 was actually in this new studio. The rest stayed on as advisors, taking an elective to help out with logistics – but we weren’t involved in the drawings everyday. That was a little tricky, because in most architecture studios everyone is doing their own proposal, and you don’t really need to work with your peers to share a single vision. In an office, there’s a clear hierarchy of who’s the principal in charge, and where everyone fits on the pay scale. We had to navigate these two things as students.
AMNP: So would you say this was more democratic than an office environment?
KB: Absolutely. Also, unlike an office, there’s not a clear 9-5 schedule everyday where everyone’s in the office for large chunks of time to work on a project. At that point we had to meet more often with the engineers, and their schedules were completely different than the architecture students’ schedules in terms of availability. So a lot of those design meetings had to get pushed off to Saturdays and Sundays, as well as late night phone calls and emails.
At that point there wasn’t simply one architecture student that was handling the details – it wasn’t quite design by committee, but it was 3 or 4 people that were of an equal level talking about design decisions. So it was hard, and it was a learning process – especially working with the engineers that don’t have prior work experience, just like the architecture student. Having to navigate that learning curve both within our own discipline and through dealing with other fields was a major obstacle to overcome.
In the following Spring there was one final studio, with some overlap of students, working on the full set of construction drawings. That ended in May, and then the managers who were graduating ran shop and finished the construction drawings and then led construction. Most construction didn’t start until after May.
AMNP: Could you talk a little about the decision to segment the house and create that courtyard?
KB: When we started the process we looked at precedents of other Decathlons – looking at what had been successful for other teams, and at what may not have worked. We noticed that a lot of the houses are simple ‘bar’ buildings, which have a lot of efficiencies for cross-ventilation, etc – but they were these ‘bar’ building with pitched roofs for solar panels, and that was kind of it. So our rallying cry over the past year has been ‘breaking out of the box’, and seeing how we can not just have 1 or 2 modules, but actually use 3 separate modules to create that courtyard – and because we were limited in square footage, we wanted to make use of exterior space to make the home feel much larger.
AMNP: So then you jumped right into construction at the beginning of the summer?
KB: Finishing up the school year we were a little behind in construction because, like any drawing set, things don’t get done until there are deadlines. The deadline of the end of school, and knowing we were losing a lot of our work force in the class forced us to kick it in gear with the construction drawings – some construction couldn’t be started until those drawings were finished, obviously – so there was one big push the last 3 weeks of May, which were the 3 weeks after graduation, to finish the construction drawings and deliver them to the Department of Energy by June 3rd.
As of the first week of May we only had our steel moment frames up and intact. The construction site being on Santa Clara’s campus, and Santa Clara being in school until the first or second week of June, it proved difficult for both finishing construction drawings and doing full 9-5 construction in Santa Clara.
AMNP: How long did it take to finish construction at Santa Clara – and how much of the construction was completed before the house was shipped to DC?
KB: We only had 6 days to put the house together on the National Mall. Because of that limitation we had to get as far in construction as possible in Santa Clara, except for those things that were site-critical. I say that because we faced some unique challenges with some of the code requirements. We needed the house to be ADA accessible, so we needed ADA ramps – but we didn’t have a true survey of our site, to know what the slope was going to be across the site. We knew where the ramps were going to be, but because of the slopes of the ramps we didn’t know what the finished height of the deck was going to be … [we had to] make sure we were under a 30″ threshold [so that the deck itself wouldn't need guardrails] and could still fit our ramps within the envelope dictated by the Department of Energy. We were pretty nervous. We had all of the ramps built in Santa Clara – we just didn’t know if it was all going to work out until we got to DC. Also the exterior lighting and signage were handled when we got to Washington – but everything else was done in Santa Clara.