Monday, June 18, 2012

Hansha Reflection House

Hansha Reflection House in Nagoya, Japan by Studio SKLIM, 2011

When I visited Tokyo, Japan some years back, in addition to the numerous Tadao Ando-designed buildings and structures by other architects of note, I really wanted to go see Klein Dytham's Under Cover Lab. Tucked away on a side street close to and parallel to Omotasando -- a shopping street home to flagships designed by Herzog & de Meuron, SANAA, Toyo Ito, Kengo Kuma, and Tadao Ando -- is KDa's small cantilevered jewel of a building. It is a design indicative of the creativity required when dealing with the city's expensive real estate and small lots.

Under Cover Lab comes to mind when I first saw the Hansha Reflection House in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture by Singapore's Studio SKLIM. The Nagoya context for the house is not as dense as that of the KDa project; it's more suburban than urban. On a smaller scale, the architects have also created a cantilever, a second floor that reaches towards the street and whatever lies beyond. And apparently it's what lies beyond that is key.

The architects describe that the house is "situated at the entrance of Misakimizube Koen, one of the picturesque parks fronting a lake and flanked by Sakura trees." Therefore the house has been designed to work with its environment. One can glean from a quick glance that the interior circulation culminates in the horizontal picture window that is highlighted with trapezoidal panels on the second-floor cantilever. This window frames the lake view; no wonder the window is horizontal.

Yet the house is not as simple as it appears from the outside. It is actually a tripartite composition in plan. From front to back the spaces are public, service, and private. Further, bordering the small service zone is a courtyard/light well. This last piece is actually the design's key -- as much as, or more than, the cantilever -- for it helps order the house while inserting a bit of natural light and air into the center of the house. It also gives the house an introverted core, something more substantial than the relatively small window fronting the house.

Photo: Jeremy San / Studio SKLIM