Vertical Glass House / Atelier FCJZ

  • 30 Jan 2014
  • Cultural Featured Houses Selected Works
Courtesy of

Architects: Atelier FCJZ
Location: Longteng Avenue, Xuhui, Shanghai,
Principal Architect: Yung Ho Chang
Project Architect: Lu Bai
Project Team: Li Xiang Ting, Cai Feng
Client: West Bund
Area: 170.0 sqm
Photographs: Courtesy of Atelier FCJZ

Courtesy of Atelier FCJZ

From the architect. Vertical Glass House was designed by Yung Ho Chang as an entry to the annual Shinkenchiku Residential Design Competition organized by the Japan Architect magazine in 1991. Chang received an Honorable Mention award for the project. Twenty-two years later in 2013, the West Bund Biennale of Architecture and Contemporary Art in Shanghai decided to build it as one of its permanent pavilions.

Courtesy of Atelier FCJZ

Vertical Glass House is a urban housing prototype and discusses the notion of transparency in verticality while serving as a critic of Modernist transparency in horizontality or a glass house that always opens to landscape and provides no privacy. While turning the classic glass house 90 degrees, Vertical Glass House is on one hand spiritual: With enclosed walls and transparent floors as well as roof, the house opens to the sky and the earth, positions the inhabitant right in the middle, and creates a place for meditation. On the other hand, Vertical Glass House is material: Vertical transparency visually connects all the utilities,ductworks, furniture pieces on different levels, as well as the staircase, into a system of domesticity and provides another reading of the modern theory of “Architecture as living machine.”

Section A

The structure erected in Shanghai in 2013 was closely based on the 22-years old design scheme by Chang and developed by the Atelier FCJZ.  With a footprint of less than 40 square meters, the 4-story residence is enclosed with solid concrete walls leaving little visual connection to its immediate surrounding.  The walls were cast in rough wooden formwork on the exterior and smooth boards on the interior to give a contrast in texture in surface from the inside out. Within the concrete enclosure, a singular steel post is at the center with steel beams divide the space in quarters and frame each domestic activity along with the concrete walls.  All the floor slabs for the Vertical Glass House, which consists of 7cm thick composite tempered glass slabs, cantilevers beyond the concrete shell through the horizontal slivers on the façade.  The perimeter of each glass slab is lit from within the house; therefore, light transmits through the glass at night to give a sense of mystic for the pedestrians passing by. All the furniture were designed specifically for the rooms inside the Vertical Glass House to be true to the original design concept and keep a cohere appearance with its structures and stairs. Air conditioning was added to the House.

Courtesy of Atelier FCJZ

The Vertical Glass House will be operated by the West Bund Biennale as a one-room guest house for visiting artists and architects while serving as an architectural exhibition.

Original Drawins
Cite: "Vertical Glass House / Atelier FCJZ" 30 Jan 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <>
  • kamil kibar

    needs good carpets…

  • Mariano Managò

    that’s a really frightening building! looks like the set of a horror movie…

  • Jonty Guite

    now I’m just wondering if there’ll be issues with privacy! :3

  • Nabmam

    Just because you can… doesn’t mean you should! What is this project trying to prove, really? My greatest pet peeve is looking at the grimy, germy area around a toilet bowl. Don’t tell me now that I also have a full view of it from below, in full transparency! Yuck! Disgusting! It is kinda silly. And pointless. If this is the future of architecture, then God helps us all!

    • Jornik

      why should the area around the toilet be germy. If you are a human being of the 21st century then that means that you are civil and clean. It seems to me that all the people opposing to this concept structure are bound to material/practical needs. This is a preparation for an actually brave step in architecture. Just think about it.

    • Luís Maria Pinto Leite

      Not everyone has to live according to the society’s standards. If the client is comfortable living in a place like this, so be it. I for example, feel uncomfortable in most traditional houses, i enjoy living in mystical places.

  • Mel Turner

    Certainly would allow people to interact or at least see one another more – too often now everyone is closed off from even their partners, children, friends – why not embrace what this architecture is offering – full transparency – life could do with a little more connectivity that doesn’t require an electronic device! however I understand those vertically challenged of us may have some issues to deal with before entering this home.

  • neda akbari

    I enjoyed it so much… If I want to go to see the interior, what do I have to do? :)