GA Gallery is currently showcasing its annual selection of new developments in residential architecture from around the globe. The “GA Houses Project 2014″ exhibition at the small but surprisingly airy GA Gallery features 56 designs by 54 architects and architect teams (24 from Japan and 30 overseas), exhibited through models, panels and video.
PingMag is currently obsessing with all things related to the Japanese home so we were keen to go along and see what the exhibition was highlighting.
We were particularly interested in the Japanese designs, though we also couldn’t help but be impressed by Zaha Hadid’s “The Sanctuary”, an austere but intimate bunker-like home in Belgium that is split over four levels. Likewise Alejandro Aravena/Elemental’s “Casa Ocho Quebradas” in Chile strikingly matches the brutal coastal landscape location with a design that is deliberately primitive.
Not only the surroundings, unusual inspirations were often present in the designs. The Japanese architect team TNA’s (Makoto Takei and Chie Nabeshima) “S-Project” was a house on a peninsula designed by the pair to resemble a bonfire. Kengo Kuma’s “Peeled Roof” had a continuous roof that looked like a peeled apple skin, with the interior of the house full of open spaces as well as intriguing “in-between” areas unprotected by the roof so that the divide between inside and outside was ambiguous.
In terms of impressive design itself, Yasushi Horibe’s “Small Pentagonal House” on the outskirts of Nagoya was a standout that lives up to its name. Its upper floor was open plan and it was topped with graceful Douglas fir rafters in a radial layout. More conceptual was the “Cubic Igloo” by Ensamble Studio. While only a prototype, this is a scene-stealing glimpse into new ways of living, prefab housing and spaces. The whole structure is made from light (98% air) EPS blocks, which also form the igloo’s interior and furniture. Mathias Klotz’s “Ramp House” and “Mobile House” continued this exploration of our fixed ideas of habitat.
However, what seemed most “Japanese” about many of the Japanese contributions to the exhibition was the relationship they had with nature. Junya Ishigami took the concept that “architecture is like a rock” and created a restaurant and residence that was a “cave-shaped, winery-like” structure. The process involved digging holes, pouring concrete into the holes and then adding glass and doors — the final step to turning nature into “architecture”.
Akihisa Hirata’s “Soil” is a house that is half-embedded in the surrounding nature. Suzuko Yamada’s design for a weekend house reinterpreted wood and partitions by using wooden pillars rather than regular walls. Ken Yokogawa goes further, designing his “House O” in Seijo in Tokyo as a residence that wraps entirely around an Eden-like garden cylinder. The result is not only an oasis inside a home but a space for building bonds between the residences. Keisuke Maeda likewise says “to construct architecture is to create an environment”. He is true to his word with his hillside Nara Prefecture property, which uses ten dividing walls that are specially treated to reflect the breeze and the sunlight.
Space — or the lack of it — is always a concern in Japan and there were some thrilling examples of how to surmount these obstacles. Alphaville’s multi-storey yet thin house in central Kyoto utilized two crisscrossing tension members that served as columns. Our favorite, though, was Shigeru Fuse’s remarkable answer to the unique conditions of the site at his “House in OGAWA”. Building on a very narrow strip of land beside a railway line, Fuse came up with a beautiful home that is 48 meters long and 2-3 meters wide.
GA Houses Project 2014
Until May 25th