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Monday, August 21, 2006

Half Dose #29: Laminata House

Earlier today I went to the hardware store to buy a padlock, a heavy duty one that can resist bolt cutters, saws, bullets, anything. I opted for a lock made from laminated steel, where steel plates are literally stacked to create the lock's solid body, as opposed to steel walls making a relatively hollow body. There's something about the laminated body that exudes strength and stability, telling me this lock will be working as long as I will.

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This same thinking towards the physical make-up of a lock extends to a house in Leerdam, Netherlands by Kruunenberg Van der Erve Architecten, where the walls are built from thousands of layers of glass laminated together into solid walls. Appropriately called the Laminata House, the design was the product of a design competition by a local housing agency in 1995.

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Given that the architects rethought the role of glass -- as a heavy, structural material rather than as a thin and brittle skin -- the construction required numerous tests to determine the material's structural feasibility. Due to this process, the house was not completed until 1999, four years after the competition. Seven years later, the house design is still fresh and still unprecedented, if not unrepeated.

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Like Herzog & de Meuron's Dominus Winery in Napa Valley which reverses our expectations on stone (situating large pieces above small ones, the latter appearing heavier by having less air space between them in the gabions), the architects here reverse our expectations on glass. This typically clear and flat window between inside and outside is here the stuff of the walls. Real windows set within the walls accentuates the differences. The interior spaces give the impression that space is carved from large blocks of glass, but the numerous green edges of the material always remind the visitor of the thousands of layers that comprise the house.

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An invisible material that made this design possibly physically is silicon, which holds the sheets together and allows them to move ever so slightly without cracking or breaking. Taken together, the house is a melding of imaginative and technological thinking, as sure to influence as it is to impress.

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Photos are by Christian Richters and were found at the Materia link below.

Links:
:: Kruunenberg Van der Erve Architecten
:: Materia article

5 comments:

  1. Frank Israel stacked glass for a few elements in his work back in the day.

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  2. the technique is interesting if only the form of the house were so.

    about 30 years ago i remember an architect from RSDI names Neil Astle, who bought a railcar load of 2 x 4 long studs and built an entire house (his own) with very interesting forms and connections: every element was of laminated 2 x 4's

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    Replies
    1. I believe Neil had condensation problems in this house.

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