Friday, November 19, 2010

T-House by Atelier Boronski

Atelier Boronski have designed the T-House in Kyoto, Japan.

On a small hill overlooking Kyoto city a suburban house for a young couple negotiates some tough local design regulations. There is virtually no choice for the roof and eaves, the walls must be straight and vertical, and the top-lights can be no more than 2% of the total roof area (in a country famous for small dark houses). The choice of acceptable siding materials is limited, and so are their colors (even for the window frames) etc, etc. But long-run metal siding with a timber ‘look’ print is acceptable…… Given Kyoto’s remarkable history of quality, creativity and inventiveness to preserve it with a dumbed down ‘pattern language’ is like putting it in a killing jar. Some parts of the inner city (such as Gion) are absolutely historical and warrant clear strong design regulation to manage their preservation but many of the areas affected by stringent design regulations are actually suburban, recently built and with no direct historical connection. Much of Japan has a lenient attitude to design regulation but not Kyoto, the irony is that here it is killing the very spirit that made Kyoto the remarkable place it is.

Therefore the house is conceived of as a simple container with private spaces lodged almost randomly within. But with views in all directions the randomness is orchestrated.

There are three primary elements at work in this composition. The main external walls (running east/west), the private volumes (overlapping and bridging) and the resultant void space extending above the LDK

The main Living, Dining, Kitchen area on the first floor opens onto the main terrace facing the garden to the east allowing classical indoor/outdoor living, and the ceiling height in this area varies from 2.5m to 7.5m. As you move through this area can you clearly perceive the three primary elements.

The two main bedrooms bridge the building, and their north/south facing walls of glass allow the external cladding to continue into the rooms, one white plaster, one black timber) The bathroom on the second floor has a large internal window overlooking the garden to the east and the guest bedroom on the third floor pushes straight out to the west. Beside and below this bedroom are two minor terraces that spatially overlap. The second lounge area on the third floor is just a floor slab, a viewing platform that bridges the main void and allows sweeping views of the city to the east. There are also two top-lights allowing vertical views to the sky. Externally the house is clad in traditional materials of burnt cedar boards (with clear lacquer finish) and white plaster. The garage door facing the street (to the west) is fully camouflaged as a wall of horizontal louvers that continues up to form the railing for the second floor terrace.

But it is the fluidity of the resultant void spaces and the curved connecting stairways that finally let the house go free. It is best understood not from one ideal position but rather as you move through the composition. There are many different kinds of spaces and connections in this house that work to create an extremely ‘socialized’ kind of environment.

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