House in Wakabadai is a small residential project –66 sqm footprint- designed for a young couple. The clients simply requested “a house that would be attractive and that would look cool”.
Certain elements are just so attractive that verbal expression is suspended and left powerless: whenever people encounter such things, the body instinctively responds before any word can be formulated; I named the nature of this mysterious longing “intensity of architecture.” And this house is one attempt in such practice.
The outer shape of the building was scaled within its surroundings by tilting and trimming volumes and surfaces. Special concern was given to the house on the western border of the lot and to the apartment building on the northern, as they were immediate neighbours: the window of their living room on the south-eastern corner of the house opens onto a panoramic view over the hills on the opposite bank of the river; in order to avoid interferences with this view, walls that might have blocked it were tilted inward. In dealing with the apartment northwards, the ground floor was turned into pilotis to enhance visual clearance and natural ventilation.
As part of my research project at the university, I have been working on the development of new methods in wooden structures with the structural designer Hirokazu Toki since 2003, and applyied them into the building practice. In this particular case the structure is an application of CSS, Container Structure System*. The house includes three structural elements that lift up the double-layered living section. The largest element in the Container Structure is the core that accommodates staircase, storage, washing place for the dog and lavatory. The other two elements host utility pipes and wires, and are so to say, arms that become thin as bones toward the ground.
Exterior walls were covered with 5mm slit boards and with rustproof steel sheet 1 mm thick, spaced at 5mm from the base of the steel plates to create a gap of insulation fry air in between, aiming to a better environmental control throughout the whole year.
* Container Structure System: a patent pending new method developed by Satoshi Okada and Hirokazu Toki upon their design for Gallery in Kiyosato (see Casabella 734
Text by Satoshi Okada