White and green are the colors with which the Japanese studio Studio Velocity creates its designs, a daring combination to which we must add its incredible geometric contributions.
To be fair, many people had already realized how limited the designs in traditional Western buildings were. Unfortunately, many other people are now discovering it more carefully because of Covid-19, better known as coronavirus. However, this regime of perpetual repetition can disappear and bet on constructing buildings in a novel way. As an example of the unusual, we will travel to Japan, specifically to Studio Velocity, to discover some designers with their own style. And it is that the Japanese country never disappoints.
A house that looks like snowy mountains
The Japanese architecture studio Studio Velocity, led by the architects Kentaro Kurihara and Miho Iwatsuki, surprised with an innovative design in 2009. It was a design for a family residence and a small beauty salon. The incredible contribution that was made to the neighborhood is, in an urban sense, of enormous dimensions, like a mountain, in fact, the house is called like this: House like a white mountain. You only have to see the building to discover the reason for the name..
The surface is 123.44 square meters and its shape with a square base rises steeply to form a sloping gable roof with different slopes. From its ridge there are two slopes with different inclinations, which resemble a mountain. The white color, chosen by the designers for the exterior of the building, only deepens the feeling of difference, elevating its magnificence.
Three floors and a huge covered terrace
The property is divided into three floors. On the ground floor there is the small hairdressing business, the common areas (kitchen, living room, dining room), the bathrooms and the cleaning room. On the second floor are the bedrooms, where it is striking that they will not locate any bathroom or toilet on the floor, forcing people to go down in an emergency. And on the third floor is the secret, the secret behind the asymmetric distribution of the building: a huge covered terrace with large openings to the outside.
With this design the architects sought two sensations. On the one hand, freedom, by spacing the plot in its first section, leaving an open space with some trees, gravel and a parking area. This feeling is also seen in the rest of the property, with generous outdoor areas on all floors. And the other sensation is the mimetic with the distant mountains, trying to overcome the height of the nearby houses, the majority of two floors, to make a kind of white mirror.
A house with glass walls
This duo of architects pleasantly surprised us again in 2013, the year in which the Open House to the City work was completed, in the city of Nagoya, Japan. It is a building located on a plot of 148.16 square meters, with a constructed area of 105.01 square meters. On this occasion, the designers divided the property into two volumes intertwined by catwalks, a new genius in the purest Japanese style.
The main structure of the buildings is executed with steel frames that make up the first volume, which have views of the main street; the transparent volume of two heights, that is to say, exterior glass walls; and the zero walls inside. At the other end of the plot there is another three-storey building with the traditional quadrangular shape and white, with wooden carpentry frames, elements that merge with the intermediate space.
The dream office has two floors and is made of wood
The architects’ idea is that the house be divided into two: a private facet, the interior life of the opaque building, and a public facet, represented in the transparent volume, hence the house is open to the city. The space in between is the best game room there can be. Here we find a green room with a recreation area and three walkways that connect the two buildings in their three heights, so that if you like to walk, you can visit the five floors of the two buildings without touching a staircase. It’s not original?
But let’s not kid ourselves, if we are reading this article today it is because of the latest genius of this fantastic creative duo: Sanno’s office, a building built in 2018 and which, for me, is the office of my dreams. It is located on a parcel in the city of Okazaki, in Aichi Prefecture. This building is a two-story wooden construction, which may not attract the attention of constructive treasure hunters at first glance, but on second reading we realize something incredible: its roof.
A spectacular roof and large green areas
And it is that its cover is not traditional. It is a large concave surface that sits on the four perimeter walls of the building, a passable space for Japanese regulations, since in Spain it could not be executed, where you can enjoy the outdoors while playing, reading or works. On this occasion, the architects play with their three favorite variables: white, large windows and the inclusion within buildings of green areas.
Three interior patios allow the inclusion of three green areas with trees robust enough to look out over the upper part of the roof, through the openings in the form of patios. Both the walls of the stairwell and the exterior walls of the building are large glass panels, which provide light for the offices. In addition, the entire exterior has been covered in white, including the fantastic roof that serves as the setting for the happier life of the property.
Laminated wood, the great construction secret
But… How is this curved and light structure achieved? You guessed it, with the oldest and most versatile building material in the world: wood. Specifically, laminated wood, which is a great fusion between this material and the latest technology. And it seems incredible that 150 people can climb on the deck, especially if we take into account that it rests on small wooden pillars. The first time I saw him I screamed «This is crazy.»
The trick is that the wooden beams are in tension, that is, they tend to be positioned horizontally, so that the pillars actually fulfill a subjection function and not a support function. As people climb onto the deck, this tension decreases and the pillars «come to rest.» When 150 people (about 40 kilos per square meter) get on deck, they will start working under compression. By the way, the property covers almost 210 square meters and is a home and an office. And it is that these buildings make architecture grow and evolve, and are envious …