House O by Jun Igarashi 16.12.09

 

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Intersecting boxes define the domestic space

House O doesn't suggest domesticity from the outside. Designed for a young Japanese couple by architect Jun Igarashi, the house is an enigmatic collection of boxes clad in black steel which intersect each other in a seemingly random fashion.

The building, on Japan's Hokkaido island, is not easy to read, with only a few disordered windows and no obvious way to get inside. There is, however, a rationale to this, according to Kenta Takano of Jun Igarashi architects. "Originally we designed the building orthogonally, but there was too much circulation," he says. "The daylight wasn't good either, so the project required a more complex solution." This solution involved bringing all the rooms together to create a contiguous ensemble of varied spaces.

The blankness is not accidental either. "Lots of people pass by the site," says Takano, "so the clients wanted some privacy." The arrangement allows for this and manages to frame the outside views. And the nooks between the boxes help to modulate the extreme temperature variations on this part of Hokkaido island.

House O is a continuation of the minimal yet complex domestic architecture that Jun Igarashi has been developing since 1997. The "Corridor of the Wasteland" house has a similar quasi-industrial, punctured-box aesthetic, in this case laid out axially. "We are interested in single-story buildings with larger floor areas," says Takano. "They make better houses – you can control the light and circulation better.

 

 Words

Douglas Murphy

quotes story

The building, on Japan's Hokkaido island, is not easy to read, with only a few disordered windows and no obvious way to get inside

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