It is always fascinating to observe Japanese architecture in its most flexible sense. Fujiwaramuro Architects have completed the design for Narrow House, a project that seems to defy the laws of space, located in the downtown residential area of Kobe, Japan. The total area of the site of 36.95 square meters meant a good challenge for the architects, which ingeniously built living space vertically.
Despite its name, the inhabitants can enjoy their space, just like in any other horizontally-developed residence: “The slatted, drainboard-like floors on the first through third floors are connected to the slatted tables, stairwell and skylights, allowing sunlight to reach right to the bottom of the house. Three-dimensional gaps and holes in the visual field eliminate any sense of a two-dimensional spatial narrowness, or sensation of being fenced in“. Would you consider living in a home like this? Except for the lack of courtyards, we have to say we fail to see the disadvantages.
What is new and exciting now can quickly begin to look tired and out of fashion, so the best buildings don’t just consider what will be interesting to look at now, but also how it might look to people in five, fifty or even a hundred years’ time. 2013’s hotly contested RIBA Stirling Prize went to Witherford Watson Mann Architects for their work on Astley Castle, Warwickshire. In what RIBA Past President Stephen Hodder has described as an extreme retrofit, the project essentially saw a new building inserted subtly into the heart of the old, with a new, two storey residence now hidden within the sandstone walls of the ruins of this medieval castle, to be used as a holiday home for up to eight guests
The best architects can create designs which will give clients and the public things they didn’t even realise they wanted, and this is especially important when architects are given the difficult brief of creating structures in much-loved, iconic areas.