The architecture is covered with a wall in which holes are cut. The shape of the holes resembles a trunk, leaves, a root and bulbs. It also can be seen as clouds floating over the trees. The concrete shape which is based on nature turns into a hollow cave: light, and sunbeams filtered through trees.
It’s been a minute now since our last post on our current featured ‘Ninjas of the Month’ – EASERNdesign. Keeping the series alive, here is their Villa Saitan project – an 11 unit studio-apartment complex in Kyoto, Japan.
One of the major factors driving the project was EASTERNdesign’s desire to create a structure that was different from the repetitive, impersonal nature of a ‘typical’ apartment building. The goal was to wrap the units with a continuous facade that would give the appearance of one unified home. This was achieved by cutting through the concrete walls in a nature-inspired root/trunk/leaf pattern. Behind this think wall the units are enclosed by simple glass walls on the exterior – with the concrete walls serving as sun-shading and privacy device.
This concrete shell is then covered in some kind of OSB or fiberboard, softening the forms by giving them an almost fabric-like aesthetic.
Another noteworthy aspect of the project’s layout is the public open space carved out of the ground floor of the building – linking the two sides of the site with a covered/protected external passageway. This inner pathway also connects to the owner’s yard, allowing him direct access to the apartment building’s facilities [which he manages himself].
What does the name Saitan mean? Tan is the color of the shrine gates, vermilion. It is also the color of pale red granite stone. Vermilion will not be weathered. It is said that vermillion is a sacred color and it used to be applied on serving dishes and bow and arrow to make them holy ones. Sai means variety of beautiful colors that make something more attractive.
What I really don’t understand is what exactly is going on with the facade shown above. I kind of like it for whatever reason, so it isn’t that – I just don’t see how it ties in to the curvy, nature-inspired front. It makes for an odd dichotomy that seems to give the building a kind of multiple personality disorder.
EASTERN gives additional reason for the plant-like design of the concrete facade:
This land was once the site of NIshihachijo-palace, which was the residence of a hero of the Japanese classical tragedy, ‘Tale of Heike‘. It was a stage of rise and fall of a clan in the 12th century. Such an old and sad memory is cherished and still told among the people of this neighborhood.
The collective housing that is built on such a historical place should not be seen as an average apartment house. Such notion occurred to us, which might have led us to the idea of an ‘immortal tree.’
We, therefore, designed a building which does not take vaguely a shape of a tree, but rather an intense and massive form with a tint of movement.
More images of this project can be viewed here, at AMNP’s Flickr page.
::photographs by Kouichi Torimura::
::images, info + quoted text courtesy of EASTERN design office, Inc::
Now, a sensible ninja would wonder: how could something called “Hyphae Design Lab” not be associated with myninjaplease? The answer, of course, is that it would be impossible. That said, I can’t believe we didn’t get a shout-out…
Moving along – our ninja Brent started the Hyphae Design Lab, and is designing innovative greywater systems out in the Bay-area. Long story short, we are incredibly water-innefficient [in the US, and globally], and in order to move towards a green / sustainable future we need to seriously overhaul the way we think of water and waste systems, particularly those in our homes. Brent has some ideas how we can do that, and discusses his vision / concepts in this video feature for DWELL.
Watch out for LEED 2009, or LEED V3, as there are some very specific changes – one of which could get your certification revoked! Jetson Green looks at the new Minimum Program Requirements, or ‘MPRs’, which a project must meet and sustain. If not: “Certification may be revoked from any LEED project upon gaining knowledge of non-compliance with any applicable MPR. If such a circumstance occurs, registration and/or certification fees will not be refunded.” Call me cynical, but this sounds like it might be a money grab…but, that said, someone should be monitoring LEED buildings to ensure they ‘stay green’.
SNAKEBIT: A documentary film on renowned architect Samuel Mockbee and the spirit of the Rural Studio.
Once you go to the rural studio and you get a chance to experience not only designing it on paper, but getting it built – and have the pleasure of people coming in and really admiring what you’ve done and appreciative of what you’ve done – that’s a great feeling, and you can’t replace it. And once you’ve had that, you’re snake bit after that… the passion is going to be there.
~ Samuel Mockbee
About time, I say.
In a dream last night, I saw a great storm. It seized the scaffolding. It tore the cross-clasps, the iron ones, down. But what was made of wood, swayed and remained.
~ Bertolt Brecht, inspiration for the Chen House
Designed by Casagrande Laboratory, of Finland, the Chen House was built on the site of an old Japanese cherry farm in the Datun mountains, North Taiwan. Built of mahogany [with concrete footings], the house was designed as a direct response to the extreme weather sometimes seen in the mountains – including severe heat in the summer, strong winds, and seasonal flooding.
With these local environmental elements in mind, the house has been raised above the ground plain to avoid the flood waters, and is incredibly porous [as you can see in the photos] – allowing a breeze coming across a local river to cool the structure. The house also attempts to protect itself from typhoons and earthquakes by using the smaller kitchen/bath volume as a ‘kicker’ to stabilize the structure.
The house is not strong or heavy â€“ it is weak and flexible. It is also not closing the environment out, but designed to give the farmers a needed shelter.
Ruin is when man-made has become part of nature. With this house we were looking forward to design a ruin.
It’s barely noticeable in these stunning photos, but the actual ‘interior’ of the house is enclosed with glass walls on either end – although I’m not sure how the walls themselves are weatherized [check out the elevation photo, above, and the plan, below]. Even on the ‘interior’, they still appear ‘open’ – with spaces between the boards, allowing the light to stream through. To make up for this space being enclosed, a series of small operable windows are placed along the floor – along with the nana-like wall on the opposite side of the room – to allow for that breeze to enter during the summer.
What a ridiculously sick project.
::more images + info available at chenhouse01.blogspot.com::
::info, images + any quoted text provided by Casagrande Laboratory::
3XN has recently completed a pavilion – dubbed ‘Learning From Nature’ – as part of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art’s â€˜Green Architecture for the Futureâ€™ architectural exhibition , intended to showcase design possibilities when using cutting edge, intelligent and sustainable materials.
The Pavilion has given us the opportunity to showcase the possibilities which exist in building with sustainable and intelligent materials. Our objective has been to show that Green Architecture can be dynamic and active.Â We often think that we need to minimize use of resources at all costs. Instead of focusing on consuming the least amount of energy, we need to focus on producing and using energy and materials in a more intelligent way than is the case today.
~ Kim Herforth Nielsen, Founder and Principal of 3XN
With a form derived from the mobius strip, the pavilion is essentially a showcase for these materials, technologies, and strategies – which I’l cover quickly here, so you can get an idea of what’s going on.
– the structure is biodegradable, so it can be decomposed after use
– synthetic materials have been replaced with biological/reusable ones, such as a bio composite made from flax fibers cast in biological resin for the outer shell of the structure, and cork sheets for the core
– 1mm flexible solar cells have been placed on the top face of the structure, which, in combination with piezoelectric materials in the floor that generate an electric current from the weight of the visitors, allows the pavilion to be energy self-sufficient [it powers integrated LED lights]
– the pavilion is coated with nanoparticles that make the surfaces self cleaning, and with a coating that adds ‘air cleaning properties’ to the structure through a chemical process called photocatalysis [air quality is improved within an 8-feet radius of air cleaning surfaces – for both effects, think titanium dioxide, altho I’m unsure if that’s what they used]
– the building retains heat using phase-changing materials, which retain energy when heated by the sun, and then release this energy as heat later in the day when the air cools
This right here is what I’m talking about – fight climate change, pollution, and energy consumption issues with siiick science + technology. I mean, imagine if all buildings were coated with self cleaning + air-cleaning materials – and the floors of all public spaces [and roads, maybe?] utilized piezoelectric materials to generate some electricity. None of these will single-handedly solve any of our current problems, but I’m down for a ‘death by thousand cuts’ solution to out climate and energy problems.
I would advise actually following some of those links for the materials – some really interesting stuff there, even though the links only scratch the surface of the potential uses.
::all info, images + quoted text provided by 3XN::
::photos by Adam MÃ¸rk::