Houses are heavy in different meanings that makes them expensive and tedious to maintain. Lighthouse project (pun intended) is based on two nice approaches developed recently in residential construction and develop its own ways to improve them and put into implementation.
I live in Nakagin Capsule Tower. I am Ukrainian architect who now is studying at a Japanese university. This Nakagin Capsule Tower is a unique example of how Kisho Kurokawa belonged to Metabolist movement envisioned residential buildings, despite the fact that the building is now begging to become a hotel. Still, yet it is an apartment housing. As another example – project of architect Alejandro Aravena – “half a house”.
These two examples may be the best things happened to residential construction in last 100 years. The little Aravena knew that he is also Metabolist in some way. Both examples represent 4D thinking in architecture. I directly use and combine Metabolists’ concept of changeability and Aravena’s development of social-oriented architecture in my project called Lighthouse, as if Aravena and Kisho Kurokawa meet.
Yet in my project, I view these pieces of architecture for drawbacks which make these elegant solutions “heavy” in many senses. I will use my experience of quite unique phenomena of residential architecture in Ukraine and experience of living in Nakagin Capsule Tower, so please, stay with me.
Starting from Aravena’s “half a house”, Chile may have enough of land to build townhouses, but, “Reinvent the habitat” judging committee may nod, there is no much space in the Netherlands. I have been to the Netherlands once and I was truly surprised how Dutch simply conquered their land from the sea. Thus, I would like to make “half a house” up, and this is there we move to the case of Nakagin Capsule Tower. Despite the theoretical replaceability, none of 140 capsules have been replaced yet placing the building into Tokyo demolition list. Speaking of what, we once had to demolish Pruitt-Igoe in US or Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong, what raises the question how social may become chaotic and how to tame distopias in architectural equations while making a solution for a perfect housing. In Ukraine we have a problem called “impudent construction”, when people begin expanding their living areas by their own making living conditions of their neigbours worse. We still remain in a direction of constant progression, which beautifully represented in Fumihiko Maki’s work “Hillside terrace” but there is seems no way back. We architects are possessed with construction and here as Hiromi Hosoya says in her article on Tokyo Metabolisms may lay the problem.
Lighthouse project aims to make residential buildings as flexible as the world around them. Thus, it provides a range of small solutions which make the building a nice-tuned structure easy to change or modify. Hashtags used in internet to define similarities between the things also serve nicely in the description of overall building performance. There are different types of them:
#social aspect/ 社会面
#design and technology/デザインとテクノロジー
In order to shorten space, I chose the finest point of each hashtag (but there is more).
#social aspect/ 社会面
Surely young and elderly people require housing quite a lot. Here the young can buy a block and enjoy their independent life and then see how their house grows simultaneously with their family. The elderly can enjoy a quiet apartment with extension in a shape of garden or guestroom for grandchildren.
#design and technology #economy #ecology/sustainability
To solve a topic about shipping containers – they are a single unit and this is where a problem lies. In the lighthouse, the structural material is pallets with mineral wool solving as an isolation material. This allows more flexibility and higher performances of different aspects, more than autoclave concrete blocks or conventional sandwich panels.
#design and technology/デザインとテクノロジー
#social aspect #lifetype
Here is there replaceability of Nakagin Capsule Tower’s capsules has a major problem. All capsules must be changed at once and there is some heavy machinery as a crane must be used. In Lighthouse a block can be changed by using 2 forklifts with no effect on surroundings nor building itself.
Among leading on the market plywood and OSB boards the most suitable material remains softwood. Easy to produce, cheap, nontoxic and easy to recycle softwood is used as a structural element and if needed as an interior finishing as well. And also there is a production of it in Northen Europe.
#lifetype #social aspect
Price for one unit block is estimated to be aproximately 3300 euro plus 2500 for a empty space for expansion, what come up to 5800 euro for the whole floor. Considering rent price on average in the Netherlands, it may be a highly profitable to lend such a space. On the other hand, surely, affordable living, when the possibility of building expansion space and lending existing block is also an option.
#social aspect #design and technology
I see many projects recently aiming for transportable houses which can be shipped, what sounds great but does it worth it if one can sell a house and buy another? I who at my 26 could barely afford a trip to Japan definitely could not afford to take with me shall be it the most portable house by now since shipping requires funds. My aim is to make housing lighter in order to make a step forward to this beautiful idea of portable houses since this can be implemented only if house transportation will be so feasible as to deliver a pizza. There is no doubt that in future Amazon Lift, Uber House or Hitachi引っ越し will compete in the transportation of houses and building blocks by drones. So I feel the necessity as an architect to make the step forward first.
It may be said that each building has three scopes of existence. The first scope is an architectural scope itself where building appears separately. The next scope is interior scope where the quality of spaces comes important. The last scope is urban planning scope where the building is an inherent part of the urban environment.
Lighthouse is a place where building’s content affect building appearance, so social aspect is stronger on this scale. However, in order to avoid possible chaos occurring by residents activity and a priori resolve all possible negotiations between many interested parties, residents are tightly connected with construction bureau which acts as a maintenance office as well. With the fact that almost everything can be done with smartphone applications, imagine a convenient way to represent Building Information Model in a mobile app. As mentioned before, the app may contain a library of building parts for expansion as well, as if all household routine become a gameplay. It goes without mentioning common chatroom with neighbors, advertisements and many more.
Urban planning scope/都市計画範囲
In the beginning of the presentation, I mentioned the article of Hiromi Hosoya on Tokyo Metabolism. She put an example of Tokyo convenience stores called Combini (コンビニ）- the fine-tuned network of thousands of small shops constantly cycling in the mad Tokyo Metabolism. Not only Lighthouse is feasible enough to become such a system but also it is an elegant way to add pointwise more living space in by squeezing this tiny 80 sq. m. (garden included) between current buildings. But backing to such a building network – this part of a city become responsible for rapid changes in migration, economic situation, transportation and more. Lighthouses refuse the notion of megastructure and can be easily decomposed, change its elements and capsules, what eventually makes architectural Metabolism suitable to modern paradigms.
At this scope, the living space is flexible with furniture units connected only to ceiling and floor what makes interior independent of the exterior. Thus, during any construction works held interior elements can remain untouched up to the whole replacement of a living block. Inside the space residents decide the layout by themselves by choosing the most convenient arrangement of furniture and interior subdivisions.
Three months plan/3ヶ月計画
Thank you for being here so far. If the project has a potential to be selected for a testing for three months the next plan can be implemented. Firstly, a construction of shorter house can be done. If it is possible to construct another house nearby when after a month or two months two living units of both houses can be switched between each other as a simulation of changeability in an urban environment. Feasibility and expenses of the whole process will be assessed. It may be the first time when one part of a building becomes a part of another.
Thus, it may be said that building becomes a thing light to upgrade or optimize.
If you have any critics, idea or suggestions, feel free to contact me:
Let us reinvent a habitat a little.