Saturday, April 10, 2010

Oresen house by Akasaka Shinichiro Atelier

Oresen house

Though at first glance, from the snow-filled surrounding this little house looks as if it is in a suburb of Oslo or Helsinki, it is actually in Japan.
Oresen House
Design Team: Akasaka Shinichiro Atelier
Location: Sapporo, Japan
Status: Completed 2007

Located at the outskirt of Sapporo, in the low-cost housing area facing the moderate slopes stand the Oresen house designed by Akasaka Shinichiro Atelier. Compacted into a tight sloping site, hemmed in by unremarkable houses and further constrained by a limited budget, architect Shinichiro Akasaka deftly transcends these limitations to create a memorable piece of domestic architecture. Based in Sapporo, he clearly understands the local context and climate, allied to a poetic austerity.

Oresen house
Oresen house

Rather than dig into the site, the foundations step down the slope, thus reducing the amount of concrete used. A large, fluid volume contains the living, dining and kitchen positioned at the south-facing top of the slope, with bands of storage, bathrooms and a spinal corridor stepping down gradually across different levels. Spatial permeability is key; there are virtually no internal doors, and instead changes in level demarcate different functions, encouraging a sense of informality and setting up through views. A staircase with an open landing overlooking the living room leads to the upper floor.

Walls and ceilings are entirely lined in a skin of birch plywood, creating the impression of being cocooned in a warm, blond womb. And though the kinked external walls were a response to site conditions and budget, such expediency is dignified and elevated by likening them to traditional Japanese byoubu screens. Covered in gold leaf, these ornate internal freestanding screens were used to reflect and conduct light and so it is with the angled planes of pale plywood. Precisely square windows punched apparently at random into the walls admit daylight and animate the ascetic exterior. The cranked roof profile reprises the byoubu effect, but it is also a response to the direction and intensity of snowfall. Thoughtful in both design and execution, the house is a gently provocative reinterpretation of suburban domesticity.

Oresen house
Oresen house

via Akasaka Shinichiro Atelier