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THE NAKED HOUSE Megan Beange Emily Monette Aaron Janushewski Ines Martinez Diez Tatiana Ferrer Borja Castillo Alberola Rubén Martínez Sanchís Sergio Navarro Garcia Jose Diaz Mollà Juanjo Ruiz


_________________________ THE NAKED HOUSE Kawagoe, Japan By Shigeru Ban _________________________ pg. 5





SERIES OF INTERVIEWS WITH SHIGERU BAN Aaron Janushewski Megan Beange _________________________

THE NAKED HOUSE From 2001 - 2012 The Familial, Social and Cultural Changes of a Decade _________________________

pg. 9

pg. 17


_________________________ THE NAKED HOUSE _________________________ pg. 11



THE NAKED HOUSE _________________________ pg. 13

INTERACTION BETWEEN CANADIAN + SPANISH _________________________ pg. 25



BIBLIOGRAPHY _________________________ THE NAKED HOUSE + SOCIAL/CULTURAL CHANGES IN JAPAN _________________________ pg. 29


_________________________ THE BONSAI TREE _________________________ pg. 19


_________________________ STORIES OF INTELLIGENT HOUSES OF THE 21ST CENTURY _________________________ pg. 31

STORIES OF HOUSES NAKED HOUSE Shigeru Ban interrupted the international scene with his ingenious usage of carton and carboard for rapid assembly and construction of refugee campsites after recent earthquakes in Kobe and Turkey. Known from then onward as the ‘paper architect’, Shigeru Ban was one of the youngest star architects at the dawn of the 21st Century. In the late 1990’s, an unusual fax came through at Ban’s Tokyo office. A man was writing to Ban, wanting him to design a new house for his family with some very unusual requests. Ban had met this man but once before; a man in his thirties, with a wife, two young children and his seventy-five year old mother, wanted a home that they all could share. Ban remembers the man describing it as providing “the least privacy, so that the family members are not secluded from one another - a house that gives everyone the freedom to have individual activities in a shared atmosphere, in the middle of a unified family.” This large family had a plot of land in Kawagoe, a small town on the outskirts of Tokyo where the accelerated and tiring speed of city life gives way to a calm landscape of greenhouses and rice fields that extend along the river Shingashi. In Japanese society, it is a privilege to possess property that can support a house of more than one hundred square metres. The client, having such an opportunity, decided to optimize the significance of the communal space where the different generations communicate and relate to each other. Even in Japan, a country know for tight knit family bonds and for residential architecture that takes special care to respect them, this was a startling design goal: as little privacy as possible. Ban’s interest was piqued. As one of the most talked about young architects in the world, and therefore logically one of the busiest, it took Ban some careful thought to decide to take on a private residential project. As Ban put it, “I often wonder if what I want to achieve as a designer,

in a project, meets the client’s needs and desires for his home, without either of us having to compromise our own beliefs.” The client himself wanted to pursue a radical design, asking Ban to re-imagine and thus redesign the way family space is divided in a house, and thus this particular project suggested none of this compromise. The most intriguing part of the comission? The budget, a challenging $225,000 for a 1,700 square foot home. Working within the concept of fusing the communal spaces and lives of three generations, Ban came up with a translucent greenhouse-like structure containing a single common space in which private areas were reduced to a minimum. The completely open two-storey building envelope houses not just this single communal space, but also four mobile bedrooms, raised on casters. The service spaces are made flexible with the use of curtains and tracks with which the family can close off or open up spaces such as the kitchen for example. The open-plan and neutrality of the common space of the home can be constantly re-organised and transformed as needed by moving the bedrooms (which can even be drawn out to the garden through the large window on the western facade) or opening and closing the curtains. The surface of the floor has been reinforced in its quality and importance as a place of communication. Though it has been re-thought, the floor maintains that connection that is so important to the Japanese concept of ‘dwelling’; man exists under the sky and upon the earth. As such, both the Japanese floor and ceiling have a particular role in the home. On the opposite end of the house, next to the porch that serves as the parking area, the bathroom, laundry, and a dressing room are drawn together. All of the family’s clothing is stored together to avoid the use of wardrobes and other storage furniture that would impede the movement of the bedrooms. Atop two of the bedrooms, benches made of cardboard have been fixed in place and the roof of the mobile unit thereby functions as a loft. 6

The house is situated near a river in Kawagoe, a city 30 miles houseof is situated nearwhose a river in Kawagoe,was a cityapproximately 30 miles or so or The so north Tokyo and population north of Tokyo andthe whose population was approximately 300,000. 300,000. However Naked House remains pastoral, even quiHowever the Naked House remains pastoral, even quiet, with et, with nothing but greenhouses and rice fields surrounding it. nothing butthese greenhouses and rice fields surrounding it. It isprecefrom It is from greenhouses - more than any modernist these -greenhouses - more than anyfunctional modernist Naked precedent - that the dent that the spare, supremely House takes spare, supremely functional Naked House takes its aesthetic cues. its aesthetic cues. The design is basic: a double height rectangular and completely translucent shell that protects the family’s privacy. design is basic: a double plastic height panels, rectangular and comTheThe walls are made of corrugated reinforced with pletely translucent that protects the family’s The fibre-glass, affixed toshell a wooden frame and lined onprivacy. the interior walls sheets are made of corrugated plasticVelcro panels, reinforced with fiwith of nylon attached with strips. The insulation bre-glass, affixed to a wooden frame and lined on the interior is provided by clear plastic bags - the same type used to ship fruit sheets of polyethylene nylon attached withThe Velcro strips. insulation -with stuffed with foam. use of this The innovative inis provided by clear plastic bags the same type used to ship fruit sulation was forced by the criteria that it allow the diffusion of - stuffed foam. The thisHowever innovative inlight fromwith one polyethylene side of the enclosure to use the of other. while sulation was forced by the criteria thatthis, it allow diffusion of the plastic and polyethylene achieved it wasthe still necessary light from one side of the enclosure to the other. However while to further detail the insulation with fireproofing treatments. the plastic and polyethylene achieved this, it was still necessary to The further theis an insulation treatments. over detail all effect interior with that isfireproofing lit, during the day with a soft and diffused light that filters inward through the strucTheand overatall effect is anforth interior that is lit, during theexception day with ture, night glows from within. With the aof soft and diffused light that filters inward through the structhe cubicles, which were constructed with brown corrugated ture, and night glows from within. With exception carton, theat interior of theforth whole house enjoys thisthesame milky of the cubicles, which were constructed with brown corrugated white light that characterized the traditional Japanese houses carton, walls the interior of the whole house enjoys thisofsame milky whose were constructed with screens made rice paper. white light that characterized the traditional Japanese houses whose walls were Japanese constructed with madeofofasrice paper. The traditional house is screens not thought a permanent dwelling but rather a place where the inhabitants stay tempoTheuntil traditional Japanesechanges. house isThe notNaked thought of asis adesigned permararily their situation House nent dwelling rather a place temposimilarly, as abut single space thatwhere flows the andinhabitants tranforms,stay describing rarily until and theirpassage situationofchanges. designed the course time likeThe theNaked water House in the is river nearsimilarly, as a single space that flows and tranforms, describing by. The three generations thereby share a home which takes the course and passage as of the timeroom like the waterand in the rivertatamis nearby.typologies so different of four a half the basic unit of traditional Japanese architecture - and the loft. The space that has resulted may perhaps be a new residential ideal, occidental and metropolitan, that renounced partitions 5in the interests of a greater spatial and communal amplitude.

The three generations thereby share a home which takes typologies so different as the room of four and a half tatamis the basic unit of traditional Japanese architecture - and the loft. The space that has resulted may perhaps be a new residential ideal, occidental and metropolitan, that renounced partitions in the interests of a greater spatial and communal amplitude.



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Why do they call you the Paper Architect? “1986; back when people were not talking about recycling or ecological sustainability, I just didn’t want to waste material. For one project I had a little budget, and I needed low cost, light-weight material. Always the paper tubes were around in my studio, tracing paper tubes, wax paper tubes, toilet paper tubes; always we wasted these paper tubes. So I thought the paper tube could be a very good material because I knew a paper tube was quite strong in compression and very inexpensive.” It seems like a far stretch, did it not seem a little crazy to you at first? Paper Architecture? “For me there is no difference between permanent structure and temporary structure. It’s all the same for me; the use of one or the other depends on the function of the project. Depending on whether the people love the building or not and even though the paper tubes want to be temporary, a temporary building can be kept permanently. The strength of the structure has nothing to do with the strength of the material.” Very interesting… Can you tell us more about the naked house? “Having met the client only once, I was again considering what to do with the project of the house, when the client sent me a fax with precise requests. What he wanted was described as a house that provided the least privacy so the family members were not secluded from each other. A house that gives everyone the freedom to have individual actives in a unified space, after reading this I knew I should take the project. Whatever is around us, whatever grass, plastic, paper, anything can be a building structure material. I have special engineers to tell me strengths, and do the research for me.”

CONCEPT VIDEOS A fictitious script built from existing interviews with Shigeru Ban.

The concept video was a summary of our work thus far to isolate the components of the project that we admired. It was both an introduction of ourselves to our spanish group members across the world, and to our path of thought concerning the project. In order to communicate this in a fun and interesting way, we chose to fake “Interviews with the Archtitect� videos. In these video clips, we rewrote and paraphrased from real interview scripts with Shigeru Ban in order to give some sense of how he might have answered our questions concerning his Naked House. 10

Our first drawing was to summarize that component in the house with which we best identified. The ‘Dwelling’ in Japanese culture seemed almost a manifestation of “Being”; being between earth and sky, mortality and immortality, man and divinity. It has ever been Man’s question; what is to ‘Be’? This self-awareness is part of human nature. As such, does this not make the ‘Dwelling’ a manifestation of this self-awareness? This idea of manifestation of “Being” was the first to be communicated in the series of drawings to follow, and can be seen above.



T R A N S F O R M A T I O N n.

A change in form/appearance/nature/character. A metamorphosis during the life cycle of an animal. The act or process of transforming. The state of being transformed.

n. I N T E G R AT I O N Act/Instance of combining into an integral whole. Act/Instance of integrating a group of people. Behaviour of the individual in harmony with the environment. 12

One day, I noticed that the architecture seems to be more of a temporary state that a single thing in space. When one is designing the architecture and building a construct perhaps the architecture or construct itself does not really exist. It is only at the moment that one is looking at the architecture that perhaps it truly exists. IGOR FRACALOSSI

Someone once said that nobody has ever seen an empty part, or a virgin forest. Because at the time that someone enters, the piece is not empty, nor the forest, virgin.





TRANSFORMATION and INTEGRATION, between HEAVEN and EARTH. Between the planes of HEAVEN and EARTH exists the mortal ‘DWELLING’. By saving the earth, recieving the sky, awaiting the divinities and initiating mortals, DWELLING occurs as that which integrates man with all. The bridge, built on a solid foundation, introducing one river bank to another, represents the earth; solid and constant. Built atop that foundation, linking future and past, we construct our DWELLING, our bridge, where we travel through time ever presently. This bridge is life and its length is neither discernible to us, nor to others, until we have reached the other side. Time within the bridge is relative; it is the path we travel between the planes of existence, before emerging on the other side as an older, wiser version of ourselves. The bridge recieves the sky, and it serves as an ambiguous marker, reminding with it’s horizon that there is ever more ahead. The earth the bridge touches below is solid, an invisible presence. It does not fail, and serves to ever remind of where we have been, of what is behind. Young and new we enter. Together we walk. Old and wisened we depart. The bridge offers a view from one inconcievable moment to another, along with all those moments when our paths crossed others. DWELLING is this path, however the home is but one part of its true nature.


U P DAT E D S TO RY - - - - - - - - --------------------NAKED HOUSE Any similarities to actual persons or places, alive or dead, real or ficticious, are merely coincidental and the product of a feverish imagination.

Shinji Ikari and his wife Rei, along with their three children and his elderly parents Ken and Yukiji moved into the Naked House, just outside Tokyo eleven years ago. Shinji, who commissioned the home from Shigeru Ban, has always loved the house and been proud to show off its progressive design aesthetic. After years of living harmoniously in this socially fluid environment, the Ikari family has changed. It began with Grandmother Yukiji, who had been suffering from osteoarthritis and thus having difficulty moving her mobile room around, suddenly falls ill and passes away. Grandfather Ken suffers a broken heart after her passing, finding holes in his day hitherto filled with his life partner. Ken becomes stubborn and querulous, rarely participating in the family’s social events and could often be found despondent and unwilling to participate in the household. In an effort to rekindle some interest for the elderly patriarch, Shinji and Rei start him on a bonsai tree. Grandfather Ken becomes a passionate bonsai-ist. However, lately Grandfather ken has found it very difficult and painful to walk. Shinji and Rei find that he is withdrawing more and more into the maintenance and cultivation of his beloved Bonsai Trees (now having several). 17

Shinji and Rei’s children, who are now grown into their late teens and early twenties, have left home to seek out post-secondary educations and careers of their own. Shinji and Rei find that their children have become jaded by the larger cites of Japan and the westernization of their pop-culture. They seem to have lost interest in the modest, simple home and lifestyle that the House in Kawagoe offered and leave, eager to strike out and make lives of their own. They seldom return home to visit. The parents, with their children gone, find themselves with a lot more free time. One new element in the family’s social pattern is the renewed focus on entertaining family and friends. The couple have started to have more visitors over simply for the enjoyment reaped from the company and the energy more people bring to the space. Another change that had occured as a direct result of all this free-time is the pursuit of hobbies and individual interests. Shinji has taken up his previously set aside studies of military stratagems and martial arts. He often practices several hours of the day, playing games of go with Grandfather Ken or a friend, and practicing his martial arts. Rei is constantly irritated by the large portion of space that his martial arts mats consume on the polished concrete floor of the home. Rei has taken up her watercolors again, a recreation she had enjoyed as a child and young adult, before her children. She is often found sitting outside, enjoying the warmth of the day, sighting some landscape or object, turning her easel to follow the sun’s rays and shadows. She has found it challenging to keep her materials and tools tidy in such an open space, and often winds up cleaning after every sit down. 18


D R AW I N G OF THE ACTION The purpose of this excercise was to precisely draw the action of focus within the house. This drawing of the action was to isolate an activity without the context of the space that surrounds it. We were to identify the activity and its effect on space with relation to measurable factors such as time and distance. In drawing this action precisely, one is able to imagine the space that this action might occupy. The convention of an occupant designing architecture for an activity is reversed by this drawing, and instead the activity designs the architecture for the occupant.








D R A W I N G OF THE A C T I O N - S E C T I O N -

The purpose of this excercise was to precisely draw the action of focus within the house in section. This drawing of the section was to capture the action of tending the Bonsai within a detailed intervention in the house. We were to identify the activity and its effect on space with relation to measurable factors such as time and distance. In drawing this section, one is able to imagine the space that the action might occupy, and in what way the action might dictate the architecture. Again the convention of an occupant designing architecture for an activity is reversed by this drawing, and instead the activity designs the architecture for the occupant.


1. Section of a ‘Growing Window’ cut at the perfect height to allow the optimum amount of light for a specific Bonsai for specific times of day. [Intervention made in the ‘Pod’] 2. Drawing of the movement of the ‘Pod’ as it travels around the house, searching for light to enter its windows. [Drawing done by Ines Martinez Diez].



C O N V E R S AT I O N S Having been grouped into international teams to work on the project, our 10 members (consisting of 3 canadians and 7 spaniards) found the business of international teamwork both corrective and enriching. Not only was it interesting to have the 9 other individual views and opinions on the same assignment, but also the added factor of cultural and educative differences. Among our many considerations for this project, the group focused upon the cultural and familial changes that the home must have experienced in the 10 years since the house’s construction. With these changes in mind, we re-wrote (fictitiously) the story of the Naked House, imagining what these same clients’ needs would be now. Some major points came to the fore. Firstly, the children would be grown and starting lives of their own. The owners of the home, the parents, might be retired and pursuing new ways to spend theirtime. Finally, there were those considerations of the continuing suitabality of structure, program and function. 25

1. How does the house age and what elements might need to be replaced? The house, having been built of various plastic polymers, is reaching the end of its materialistic life. Shigeru designed the interior to include removable fabric walls, echoing the Japanese tradition of screens. Our intervention in this case would include sand-blasted/ frosted acrylic panels that would serve the same function, while providing slightly more sound proofing.

2. As the neighboring property has been developed, how has privacy increased/remained the same? As mentioned above, the house had been built of translucent material during construction. The exterior being fibre-glass, the insulation a polymer and the interior finish a plastic fabric, the construction was meant to let as much as the quiet rural atmosphere into the home as possible while maintaining the privacy of the family and the milky quality of the light travelling through. Sound reduction might have become a major problem for the family by now, as the city of Kawagoe has grown and started serving as a bedroom community for the larger city of Tokyo. Privacy among the family members has not changed in condition, however with the possible retirement of the parents in the present or near-future, frequent guests have now become an important consideration. The curtains that act as temporary seperations for the service areas are still sufficient for this function, however the family might have need of again, slightly more sound proofing. This can be achieved with thicker curtains, and insulating the bathroom walls.

3. Does part of the building get removed/changed to reflect family size or conditions? With the possible absence of the children, and thus the possible influx of guests and entertaining occuring in the home, the space is still of functionable size. What may have become irrelevant at this point in the home’s story are the unused bedrooms. As they may be unused, the logical conclusion is that they are no longer moved about and therefore have become programmatically fixed in the home. In addition, the open plan and strong connection to the outdoor patio area that exist already will serve these programs perfectly with no changes necessary.


4. Does the family remove/fix/renovate the pods as genera- tions are no longer there to share the same communal space and movable bedrooms? With the possible absence of the children and the possible influx of guests and entertaining occuring in the home, the ‘sleeping’ pods have lost some of their meaning. The relevance of the unused bedrooms at this point in the home’s story is called into question. If they were to be left unused, the logical conclusion would be that they are no longer moved about and therefore would become programmatically fixed in the home. However an alternative solution that was proposed within our group was the idea that each pod should be converted from bedroom to personal space. Still on casters and therefore movable throughout the home, these pods would provide the perfect spaces for the individual interests of the family. In addition, the open plan and strong connection to the outdoor patio area that exist already would serve these programs perfectly with no changes necessary.

5. How does the idea of ‘dwelling’ (between heaven and earth) change, or how does it stay the same? This self-awareness and connection that was spoken about on earlier pages seems to be diminished somehow with the loss of part of the family. Also, with the Westernization of the culture and post-secondary education models in Japan, the children might seem much more distant, their home among the rice-fields less relevant to their ‘contemporary’ concerns. This is an important question for architects working on any project. Has dwelling lost some of its significance and relevance as the manifestation of our `Being’ on earth? Are our dwellings true manifestations at all?


C O N V E R S AT I O N S Using a combination of communication and networking tools, our group was able to work in a unified manner despite the distance. A list of these methods can be found below: • • • • • •

Google Documents Google Groups Google Blogger Facebook E-mail Skype 28

BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. The Stories of Houses 2. Shigeru Ban Architects 3. Shigeru Ban Interviews - YouTube 4. The Art of Building Lightly, an Interview with Shigeru Ban: the-art-of-building-lightly.html


Drawing by: Aaron Janushewski 30


MANIFESTO “The way in which you are and I am, the manner in which we humans are on the earth, is […] dwelling. To be a human being means to be on the earth as a mortal. It means to dwell.” Martin Heidegger Heidegger elucidates the way to dwelling poetically as saving the earth, receiving the sky, awaiting the divinities and initiating mortals. To be an inhabitant of the earth in this case is to be a genuine keeper of it, a “care-taker”. If to dwell poetically, we must preserve and protect, then we are faced with a dilemma. For the state of building and dwelling is certainly not like this in our precarious age. For, in the past decades, there was nothing to concern ourselves with besides the most efficient building technologically possible and spending the smallest of costs to achieve it? Perhaps there were some who sought aesthetic goals, new and daring solutions to the same problems, however they were the favored few. Technology is now the ruler of creation, and as such, lays influence on everything. Heidegger outlines the dangers of our Technological Age, warning us to keep watch and stay alert to the pitfalls of a ‘modern’ society. Thus, if Heidegger’s view of dwelling poetically is to be believed, then should it not stand to reason that architects should play a role in the complex new relationship to be found in the marriage of the Natural and the Technological? Certainly! Our World is more conscious of environmental limits and cultural differences now than it ever was in Heidegger’s time, however so too is it farther into the embrace of Technological Globalization. Architecture must thus ponder strategies not just to disclose its discipline’s potential for embodying an ethical and poetic intentionality for dwelling, but also its capability for action.


Re-Writing the Naked House  

A portfolio-style magazine summarizing the works of one student during a Carleton University Masters of Architecture Studio.

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