The site for this project was located on a narrow street of densely packed mid-to-high-rise buildings with no clear, unobstructed lines of sight. The client’s brief included a request for parking space, a master bedroom, a living, dining and kitchen area, and a children’s room on each of the first through fourth floors, as well as for the interior to be kept away from direct sunlight for health and environmental considerations. In addition, there was also the need to take into account measures to reduce ambient noise and vibrations – features that are indispensable for urban residential buildings. For the framework of the building, we decided to use a strong structure that framed a multi-layered internal space delimited by the smallest openings and minimum floor area possible. Simply converting these specifications into architectural terms, however, would have led to the pitfall of a homogeneous, characterless space. Without adding to the sense of surfeit caused by the city, the design for K house breaks down an extremely minimal form through a simple manipulation, while preserving a clear objective: to create a psychological and physical refuge from the city by extracting a natural form of architectural expression from the hustle and bustle of the surroundings, in order to create an attractive living space that fosters strong bonds between family members.
K house is constructed out of a five storey steel-reinforced concrete structure. The surface of the façade is bent inwards starting from both the top and bottom, so that the lateral view of the building looks like a “K.” In addition to the building’s setback, the façade surface itself has been made to retreat from the road in front in order to avoid a sense of oppression from oncoming traffic. The slanting of the windows in relation to the walls also allows for intersecting lines of sight from the opposite building and street. Furthermore, the introduction of this angle on the surface of the building gives rise to more frequent shade and background reflections on the windowpanes, preventing unnecessary exposure of the interior and compromises in privacy while also avoiding a sense of complete enclosure. The slanted façade produces large and small gaps in between the slanting surface of the façade and the internal wall that stands just in front of it, forming a sort of “link” that allows light and wind to be shared with the adjacent space. The various types of openings in the façade – fenster (lower level window), multiple middle window and transom window – transform one’s impression of the space, eliciting unique spatial qualities adapted to the living context of each zone within the house. In this versatile space, the cross-sectional manipulations of the building take on a vital role. Floor height is determined not uniformly, but rather according to the individual spaces within the house, while the treatment of the skylight has also been changed both directly and indirectly.
In addition, the staircase acts as a large void spread over five stories from the first floor to the penthouse level, functioning as more than just a pathway for movement. Within this void, discrepancies in individual floor height are preserved and expressed in the configuration of staircase and landing. As a result, a wide spectrum of variations come into play in each localized area even within this huge void space, transformed into “lines of flight” that fill the interior with natural light and wind, and “deposits” with utilitarian functions. By using glass for the stairwell, the sense of a separating border between the void space and each room has been stripped away. Interior spaces divided by the floor thus become one continuous space through the intervention of the stairwell, which shifts the flow of space from a horizontal to a vertical direction at one stroke, heightening its dramatic quality. When in the house, one feels the constant presence of family members close by, as well as abundant natural light and wind. This serene living space also offers the possibility of adding ecologically friendly features like solar energy generation and rooftop greenery that furnish its inhabitants with an even healthier living environment.