ABB LEAF GLOBAL AWARDS 2018 - SHORTLISTED
2A ASIA ARCHITECTURE AWARDS 2018 - SHORTLISTED
Taiwan is a densely populated island with a population of 23 million squeezed onto an island, of which most is mountains and rainforest. This means that tightly packed dense developments are often needed on compact sites.
With an area of just 0.6 HA, this site was zoned to have 7 large houses in close proximity to each other. This creates issues not just of privacy and overlooking but also environmental issues to do with natural light and ventilation. To alleviate this, the project brings breezy airflow from the adjacent forested valley into the houses. The external form and internal layouts were adjusted to maximize natural ventilation of the interiors. Spaces are connected by courtyards and double-height voids, with skylights above, bringing light into the hearts of the houses. These outdoor/semi outdoor spaces are an “open canvas” for residents to define, changing their use in varying weather conditions. A system of light-weight screens modulates the light and controls views both into and out of the buildings, and encourages users to leave the window open for airflow while maintaining privacy.
These houses represent a new paradigm in Taiwanese housing -moving away from the dark, artificially lit and cooled typology which has dominated since the mid-20th century to a new typology: A typology which is bright and breezy and has stronger connections to the weather and nature outside. Though densely packed and structurally solid they create an atmosphere of lightness and privacy -a welcome refuge from the busy city outside.
The form of the houses was developed through an iterative process of formal adjustment using digital wind simulation. In addition to external air movement around the buildings internal movement is encouraged through the use of double-height spaces linked to vertical staircase stacks, allowing light and air to penetrate all areas. Air is cooled by passing over a swimming pool at the lowest level and then rises through the courtyard and out through the roof garden bringing a constant flow of cool air through the house. In this way the houses are able to breathe, exchanging air with the surroundings, taking in cool fresh air from the forest and breathing out stale warm air.
In perhaps the most powerful passage of the novel Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann the anti-hero marvels at the incongruity between the delicate crystalline perfection of individual snowflakes and the chaotic, powerful, vision-distorting effects of the blizzard. The design of the screen for these houses similarly combines a precision of design and manufacturing at the small scale (parametric design and CNC laser-jet cutting) with drifting, cloud-like effects at the large scale. Through the complexity and variation of the pattern privacy effects are enhanced and can be adjusted to reflect both different uses within and different exposures without. The screens provide effective privacy while allowing plenty of light to enter and fill the houses with brightness.