Akihisa Hirata designed an ingenious S-shaped residence on a narrow site in Japan. Developed vertically, this unusual family home has a simple rectangular exterior shape. All the interiors wrap around a massive stairway supported by three pillars, which leads the way towards the top floor. The rest of the design elements almost seem to fade away visually when associated with this center wooden spiral.
The entire house is a mix of twists and turns and looks more like a labyrinth than a common family home. But with all the steps and unexpected curving, children are likely to fall in love with this space and spend plenty of time discovering it. We particularly like the creative shelving system- a simple and practical idea, making each of the exhibited objects easy to reach. Various windows pierce the white walls, ensuring a good flow of natural light throughout- a must-have feature in a home with so many things to stumble on.
Energy during the construction process was saved by using FSC-certified glulam timber instead of steel to create the building’s distinctive wavy roof, while the store’s external walls use hemclad, a highly innovative insulator made from hemp, which, like all plants, absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere as it grows. An 80,000 litre water tank below ground provides water for the store’s toilets and waters the site’s green wall’, which provides natural insulation, acts as an all-natural pollution filter near the car park, and helps to encourage biodiversity. The result is a building that uses a fraction of the energy of structures of a similar size, and is still very popular with local shoppers.
An example of a huge success is Heneghan Peng Architects’ Giant’s Causeway Visitors’ Centre in Antrim, Northern Ireland. Using the large difference in level across the site, the architects created two folds in the landscape. Bold, but not conflicting with the rather bleak natural environment, these folds draw all the man-made areas together and create one fitting man-made break in the natural landscape. In the words of the architects themselves, There is no longer a building and a landscape, but building becomes landscape and the landscape itself remains spectacular and iconic