Hard exterior, soft heart: Villa by Shigeru Ban
Text: Jana Hampe
Architect Shigeru Ban has just been awarded the Pritzker Prize. His design for a villa in the Japanese city of Hakone follows a formal inner logic: a teardrop-shaped courtyard has been cut out of a nearly enclosed rectangle. It leads to an unusual distribution of space.
Architects: Shigeru Ban Architects, Tokyo
Location: Hakone, Kanagawa, Japan
A square whose sides each measure 30 metres forms the main area of the villa, whose spaces are arranged around the teardrop-shaped courtyard. At the tip of the teardrop, the two perpendicular roof ends form the entryway: the pointed roof end on the west side crosses the boundary of the square, juts out to the edge of the property and leads visitors from there to the two entrances to the cube, which has a certain hermetic quality.
The individual living functions are arranged like pearls on a necklace: each room overlooks the green courtyard. The façade to the yard is completely glazed and thus blurs the limits between interior and exterior space.
The south wing is home to the owners' living spaces: living and dining areas, kitchen, bedrooms and studies. On the opposite side, accessible via a separate entrance, we find the guest rooms, a fitness room and covered carport. The two spatial volumes are interrupted by an open passageway leading to the garden. The partition walls in the interior spaces are arranged towards an imaginary centre point and create the effect of obliquely cut slices of cake. The supporting structure is made of L-shaped wooden beams whose various heights form an undulating roof.
Structural engineer: Hoshino Structural Engineering
General contractor: Hakone Construction
Site: 1,770 m²
Gross floor area: 576.89 m²
Usable space: 452.60 m²
Completion: August 2013