Forbidding ‘Rooftecture’ House Contains Hidden Warmth

Most of today’s modern green buildings like to open up their interiors to the natural world — to embrace the sunlight, breezes and weather that help tie the building in with the rest of the community. Then there’s this new townhome from Japan’s Shuhei Endo Architecture Institute, which seems to have more in common with a municipal storage shed than a modern, eco-friendly residence.

Don’t let the cold, windowless exterior fool you, though. Upon closer inspection, the seemingly impenetrable corrugated-steel shell is actually a perforated mesh that allows light to filter into an inviting three-story home, which relies on natural light to brighten its hidden depths.

Image by Stirling Elmendorf via Shuhei Endo

Image by Stirling Elmendorf via Shuhei Endo

Wedged into the densely populated city of Osaka, Japan, the “Rooftecture OT2” house lives up to its name. Its corrugated steel roof bends over the edge of the façade and flows in a continuous line to the sidewalk below. This external skin is designed to provide a high level of privacy on a site that is surrounded on three sides by other buildings and faces a bustling city street. Even the rigid chain links that form the door handle to the main entrance seems to scream to passersby: “Keep out!”

Closeup of the perforated steel facade and fused chain-link door handle. Image by Stirling Elmendorf via Shuhei Endo.

Closeup of the perforated steel facade and fused chain-link door handle. Image by Stirling Elmendorf via Shuhei Endo.

Once inside, however, visitors are welcomed by the warm modernist tones of exposed oriented strand board (OSB) walls, hardwood flooring and cedar steps on the stairways, according to the Designboom site. Two skylights on the roof let sunshine down through the two upper floors, illuminating the kitchen and living room.

Skylights draw natural light into the stairwell, lined with exposed OSB and hardwood floors. Image by Stirling Elmendorf via Shuhei Endo.

Skylights draw natural light into the stairwell, lined with exposed OSB and hardwood floors. Image by Stirling Elmendorf via Shuhei Endo.

From the interior, which is large enough to accommodate a couple and their three children comfortably, it is also revealed that the corrugated façade is really a screen for three small metal balconies that are accessed through sliding glass doors. The perforations in the metal create patterns of diffuse light in the living room and provide unique, pixelated views of the city street.

The glowing interior, seen through the mesh at night. Image by Stirling Elmendorf via Shuhei Endo.

The glowing interior, seen through the mesh at night. Image by Stirling Elmendorf via Shuhei Endo.

It’s at night with the best features of the Rooftecture OT2 design become apparent. As darkness falls, the interior lights begin to glow through the metal mesh of the exterior. From the outside, the common-area rooms are visible as if seen through a gauzy curtain. Both bedrooms are located to the rear to provide more privacy for the family.

Randy Woods is a Seattle-based writer and editor with 20+ years of experience in the business publishing world. A former managing editor of Seattle Business, iSixSigma, Claims and Waste Age magazines, he has covered topics that include newspaper publishing, entrepreneurism, green businesses, insurance, environmental protection and garbage hauling (yes, really). He also contributes to the Career Center Blog for The Seattle Times and edits a photography magazine called PhotoMedia. When not working, he likes to hide out in Seattle movie theaters and attend film festivals—even on sunny days.

1 Comment

  • Reply January 22, 2013

    Der Zeitgeist Geistreich

    I cannot remember off hand the last time I saw anything that I loved as much as this. Maybe 63.02° / Jo Nagasaka + Schemata.

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