Architect: Kouichi Kimura Architects
Location: Shiga, Japan
Year built: 2012
Japanese studio Kouichi Kimura Architects have gone against this school of thought and have designed a concrete house in Shiga, Japan that intentionally defies this notion. Named ‘House of Silence’, the two-storey building is a structure completely independent from its surroundings, appearing materially, aesthetically and structurally alien to its environs. As its name reveals, the House of Silence was designed to be noticeably cut off from the buzzing city, not as much in terms of noise cancellation as in terms of visual obstruction.
The house is a rigid concrete volume composed of solid surfaces sporadically interrupted by a few windows. High walls rise like a barrier forming a protective perimeter layer that obstructs visual connection to the rest of the city. Cubic volumes and intersecting planes are slotted together to create a robust outer shell. Inside it, the eye rests in silence and serenity away from the bustling city. An opening like a belfry and an inner court entirely isolated from the outside world hint at the variation of spaces inside.
Contrasting its heavy exterior facade, the house’s interior is unexpectedly open and bright. What is nestled inside is a sequence of spacious rooms connected by a continuous line of flow. Linear forms and protruding surfaces elongate space, while the contrast of the height tricks the eye into thinking that the space is even deeper and wider than it actually is. In addition to this, the secluded inner court plays with natural light, showing a variety of expressions as the light changes throughout the day.