Multi disciplinary practice SANDWICH and architectural practice team Low Energy uses recycled timber to describe sustainability employing a spatial vocabulary that heralds a totally new architectural style.
Contemporary art and sustainable architecture converge in the most brilliant fashion at Kyodo House in Japan. This is a collaborative work amongst SANDWICH and Team Low Energy. The team created this design by following the principles of natural ventilation.
SANDWICH and team Low energy considered many aspects of environmental parameter whilst reflecting upon orientation, materials, and facade treatment that reflects onto the floor plan in order to make the house as energy efficient as possible as well as providing comfort to live. The layout of the house was conceived for a family with the basic format of bedrooms, living room and kitchen-dining space.
The spatial volume in Kyodo House has been designed as numerous overlapping boxes – volumes stacked above the ground floor, including one jutting out at an angle. The position and size of these ‘boxes’ does not only have dictated the internal zoning, but also reflect in the external facade, presenting an interesting geometric composition to the viewer.
Geometric planning of the residence pivots on a central ‘box’, the living room, which stretches up to form a tower. The open plan of this large double height central space includes a dining and kitchen area along with the main living room space, and is oriented to face the southern sun, thus outlining a natural light path which strives to achieve maximum efficiency.
The centrepiece of the owner’s living style, the central atrium living space features a two storied high library wall and a central staircase. Accommodating a tea room and a study space in the elongated tower, the designers carved out a narrow ceiling void which has become the ideal spot for the children to play on a swing.
Control of the air flow has attributed the central atrium living space the function of a ventilation tower. It produces a chimney effect in the airflow, assisting and improving the interior ventilation. In winters, the air warmed by the streaming sunlight cosies the interiors, while in the summers the windows allow fresh breezes to cool the spaces.
Further, the architects explain, “a simulated airflow pattern is created by stacking the volumes whose juxtaposition has been orchestrated by the views, sceneries and surrounding greeneries.” This geometric planning also ensures that the natural light filtering through is carried throughout the space in a continuous mode.
All bedrooms are located on the upper floors and an alternative space in the basement has also been providing for events so that the family can host the community. The layout include a terrace; this allows the residents an elevated view of the green neighbourhood and this also contributes to the communal activities that are hosted here.
One of the most striking features of Kyodo House is its facade, for which the designers have taken inspiration from sculptor Kohei Nawa’s ‘Direction’ series of paintings. The art work, explores a visual representation of gravity, and the design team has interpreted this abstract art onto the external canvas of the house in an architectural language.
The distinctive lumber composition of the external wall uses recycled timber arranged in alternating widths and colours at angles, consequently generating a unique textured surface. The designers tell us, “Old timber that is originally cut from different trees growing in Japan, is often left out in the timber yard, and we merely reused this left over timber. Our aim was to produce an impression that is warm and rustic while still being contemporary.”
The timber composition is contemporary and abstract at first glance, but the warm and aged hues of the material lend a rustic charm to the structure. For this unique facade, the most challenging aspect according to Sandwich team “was the division of timbers according to the assembly rules, and physically constructing the facade while maintaining the continuity of the diagonal lines around the corners of the volumes.”
Sustainable architecture is the need of the hour and designers around the world are striving to create the perfect green design. In Kyodo House, Sandwich and Team Low Energy have used layout, orientation and material palette to create a volume that does not require artificial air conditioning, instead it uses all of nature’s resources to save energy and decrease the carbon footprint. Kyodo house is a natural energy machine that proves to be as sustainable as possible, effectively and efficiently using natural energy all year round.
Text By K Parvathy Menon
Photographs By Nobutada Omote, SANDWICH