Alice

Alice

Architect
N MAEDA ATELIER
Location
Ota, Tokyo, Japan | View Map
Project Year
1997
Category
Private Houses
SHINOZAWA

ALICE:private residence

N MAEDA ATELIER as Architects

The plot for ALICE is an extremely long rectangle, 3.8 m wide and 22 m deep. It is situated in the middle of a bustling shopping district that would seem completely unsatisfactory for a personal home. The client requested a "resort" here. With a pool, lush trees, and a blue sky above. 
In order to conceptualize this "resort", I decided to use two contradicting methods at the same time, to "sever" the architecture from the commotion of the surroundings, and to boldly "connect" it thereto. 
The former is realized by air which is powerfully isolated by concrete walls on either side, and the latter is realized by providing a little "hole" in the front facade for communication with the city.
 The spatial configuration it self is two thick and solid walls on either side, and randomly bridging the two walls with eight chopped floor slabs as skip floors. This secures entry of light and breeze from above only, while allowing these to pass to the farthest depths through the gaps between the floor slabs. The dweller can watch the family, sky, and trees, appearing and vanishing among the floor slab gaps.


The most important item in ALICE is the swimming pool which the client requested. The instant that a glass-walled pool is inserted into the above-described architectural frame, the architecture is activated. ALICE is designed so that the water in the pool is visible from any location therein. 
Watching people swimming in the pool through the glass is wonderful of course, but the picture device of watching the surface of the water from below is indescribable. 
Rain creates countless patterns on the surface of the water, wind creates waves. A single leaf dropping onto the water changes into a drawing on a blue canvas, snow creates a spectacle of white dots. This pool is a special device for extracting nature that is normally invisible in the busy city. The client's young boy discovered a rainbow cast from the water through the glass while at the breakfast table.


Swimming toward the road, the instant the swimmer dives under a curved wall, the surrounding city and a normally-unconceivable scenery co-exist across the pool partitioning glass toward the road. This is an intentional hole for the architecture to communicate with the city. Might an architecture not change its involvement with the city, not due to itself, but due to "acts" of the client?

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