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A Brief History of the Windowless House

00:00 - 5 March, 2014
A Brief History of the Windowless House, The Vertical Glass House (2013), built at the West Bund Biennale of Architecture and Contemporary Art, Shanghai. Image Courtesy of Atelier FCJZ
The Vertical Glass House (2013), built at the West Bund Biennale of Architecture and Contemporary Art, Shanghai. Image Courtesy of Atelier FCJZ

In this article, originally published by Metropolis as "Houses Without Windows: Meditative Respites or Architectural Straightjackets?", Komal Sharma looks into the architectural oddity that is the completely enclosed house. While many would shudder at the idea, there is a rich history of houses which, in exceptional circumstances and with exceptional clients, make sense without windows.

The Vertical Glass House by Chinese architects Atelier FCJZ is disingenuous to say the least. Its name suggests a vertical derivative of Philip Johnson's canonical house, and in fact its architects describe it as a 90-degree rotation of the typical modernist glass house. Instead, what welcomes visitors at Shanghai's Xuhui waterfront is a four-story concrete house without any windows. Where is all that promised glass, you might ask? 

The answer is inside. The house's textured concrete walls give it the appearance of a bunker, but the interiors are actually light-filled. The architects accomplish this through an inverted sense of space. Where one expects walls of glass, yielding a platonic prism that brazenly exposes inhabitants to the outside world, the house instead delivers a surprising twist: the 7-cm-thick floor slabs are completely transparent, endowing users with a Superman-like sense of see-through vision. The experience of looking up through all of the house's spaces, even the most private spaces like the bathroom, is breathtakingly novel.

Read on for more about the phenomenon of window-less houses

The Leiria House (2010) appears as a ghostly reflection of the quintessential home. Image © FG+SG The U-House by Toyo Ito (1976). Image © Koji Taki The interior structure of the Vertical Glass House divides the floor area into four quadrants. Image Courtesy of Atelier FCJZ The source of illumination for the Ryunsenji House (2008) in Japan, is a light well on the roof. Image Courtesy of Uno Tomoaki +8

Bicom Communications / Jean De Lessard

01:00 - 5 March, 2014
Bicom Communications / Jean De Lessard, © Adrien Williams
© Adrien Williams

© Adrien Williams © Adrien Williams © Adrien Williams © Adrien Williams +12

Steve McQueen: A Master of Architecture in Film

00:00 - 5 March, 2014
Steve McQueen: A Master of Architecture in Film, Plantation in "12 Years a Slave". Image Courtesy of indienyc.com
Plantation in "12 Years a Slave". Image Courtesy of indienyc.com

"In a career that is still taking shape, the 44-year-old McQueen has already done more to make me rethink the relationship between the built environment and the camera than almost anybody in Hollywood." So says Christopher Hawthorne in his latest for the LA Times, where he examines the body of work of Steve McQueen - the director of Hunger, Shame, and the Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave - and explores how McQueen "takes up architectural symbols in a sustained and strategic way." Read the fascinating article at the LA Times.

ARCHIST: Illustrations of Famous Art Reimagined as Architecture

01:00 - 5 March, 2014
ARCHIST: Illustrations of Famous Art Reimagined as Architecture, Courtesy of Federico Babina
Courtesy of Federico Babina

Federico Babina has unveiled yet another playful collection of architecturally inspired illustrations: Derived from the "symbiotic relationship and implicit partnership" between art and architecture, Archist reinterprets the expressive language and aesthetic of prominent artists as built form. 

“Art and architecture are disciplines that speak and lightly touch each other, the definition and function of the architecture are changing constantly with the development of contemporary art,” described Babina. “I took pleasure imagining architecture steeped of art, designed and constructed through the interpretation of an artist’s language.”

Just imagine, what if Dalí designed a house or Miró a museum? See what Babina envisioned, after the break...

Black Cube House / KameleonLab

01:00 - 5 March, 2014
Black Cube House  / KameleonLab, © Tomasz Zakrzewski
© Tomasz Zakrzewski

© Tomasz Zakrzewski © Tomasz Zakrzewski © Tomasz Zakrzewski © Tomasz Zakrzewski +22

  • Architects

  • Location

    Wroclaw, Poland
  • Architect in Charge

    Kuba Wozniczka, Rafal Specylak
  • Collaborator

    Marek Wozniczka
  • Area

    235.0 sqm
  • Project Year

    2012
  • Photographs

Norman Foster's Ultra-Thin Condominum Tower to Rise Above Seagram Building

01:00 - 5 March, 2014
Norman Foster's Ultra-Thin Condominum Tower to Rise Above Seagram Building, 610 Lexington Avenue. Image © Foster + Partners
610 Lexington Avenue. Image © Foster + Partners

Construction is officially underway on 610 Lexington Avenue, a 700-foot ultra-thin condominium tower designed by Foster + Partners in New York City. Designed as a contrast to its neighboring landmark, Mies van der Rohe’s midcentury Seagram Building, the slim 61-story tower will feature 91 luxury units encased within a pure white glass facade.

User-Generated Kyiv Ideas Competition

00:00 - 5 March, 2014
User-Generated Kyiv Ideas Competition

The recently announced 'User-Generated Kyiv Ideas Competition' is searching for creative ideas and architectural solutions on building a better city. In nowadays circumstances, where citizens arise and understand that a city should be built by its citizens, the competition aims to convert the maximum energy generated by the revolutionary wave into urban ideas and new functions of public space.

Casadelmar Hotel / Jean-François Bodin

01:00 - 5 March, 2014
Casadelmar Hotel  / Jean-François Bodin, Courtesy of Jean-François Bodin
Courtesy of Jean-François Bodin

Courtesy of Jean-François Bodin Courtesy of Jean-François Bodin Courtesy of Jean-François Bodin Courtesy of Jean-François Bodin +30

Agui House / ALTS Design Office

01:00 - 5 March, 2014
Agui House / ALTS Design Office, Courtesy of ALTS Design Office
Courtesy of ALTS Design Office

Courtesy of ALTS Design Office Courtesy of ALTS Design Office Courtesy of ALTS Design Office Courtesy of ALTS Design Office +20

  • Architects

  • Location

    Aichi, Japan
  • Architect in Charge

    Sumiou Mizumoto, Yoshitaka Kuga
  • Area

    121.0 sqm
  • Project Year

    2014
  • Photographs

    Courtesy of ALTS Design Office

Comcast / Design Blitz

01:00 - 5 March, 2014
Comcast / Design Blitz, © Jasper Sanidad
© Jasper Sanidad

© Jasper Sanidad © Jasper Sanidad © Jasper Sanidad © Jasper Sanidad +15

Eiffel Tower's 1st Floor Redevelopment / Moatti-Rivière

01:00 - 5 March, 2014
Courtesy of Moatti-Rivière
Courtesy of Moatti-Rivière
  • Architects

  • Location

    Eiffel Tower, Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France
  • Area

    4586.0 sqm
  • Project Year

    2014
  • Photographs

    Courtesy of Moatti-Rivière

Courtesy of Moatti-Rivière Courtesy of Moatti-Rivière Courtesy of Moatti-Rivière Courtesy of Moatti-Rivière +23

Building Omega / Metropolis

01:00 - 5 March, 2014
Courtesy of Metropolis
Courtesy of Metropolis
  • Architects

  • Location

    Santiago de Surco, Peru
  • Architect in Charge

    Jose Orrego
  • Area

    36860.0 sqm
  • Project Year

    2013
  • Photographs

    Courtesy of Metropolis

Courtesy of Metropolis Courtesy of Metropolis Courtesy of Metropolis Courtesy of Metropolis +17

Six Essential Materials & The Architects That Love Them

01:00 - 5 March, 2014
Six Essential Materials & The Architects That Love Them

In case you missed it, we’re re-publishing this popular post for your material pleasure. Enjoy!

To celebrate the recent launch of our US product catalog, ArchDaily Materials, we've coupled six iconic architects with what we deem to be their favourite or most frequently used material. From Oscar Neimeyer's sinuous use of concrete to Kengo Kuma's innovative use of wood, which materials define some of the world's best known architects?

VIDEO: The Floating Metropolis That Could Support Brazil's Offshore Oil Rigs

00:00 - 5 March, 2014

In Brazil, the offshore oil mining industry is expanding. Unfortunately for oil companies though, it's expanding away from the coast, as new oil deposits are found further and further from land - so far, in fact, that they're outside the range of the helicopters that usually transport workers to and from the rigs. That's why Rice University students took on the challenge of designing "Drift & Drive," a floating community where workers and their families could stay for extended periods of time, eliminating the inconvenience of the usual "two weeks on, two weeks off" cycle.

The project won the Odebrecht Award last year, and now one of the largest petrochemical companies in Brazil, Petrobras, is working on a plan to implement elements of the design. 

Read on after the break for more about how the project functions

A House In The Woods / William Reue Architecture

01:00 - 5 March, 2014
A House In The Woods / William Reue Architecture, © Steve Freihon
© Steve Freihon

© Steve Freihon © Steve Freihon © Steve Freihon © Steve Freihon +14

  • Architects

  • Location

    Ulster County, NY, United States
  • Design Principal

    William Reue, R.A.
  • Project Team

    James Teese, Jr
  • Area

    4800.0 ft2
  • Project Year

    2013
  • Photographs

Residence in Lugano / Volpatohatz

01:00 - 5 March, 2014
Residence in Lugano / Volpatohatz, © Richard Glover Photography
© Richard Glover Photography

© Richard Glover Photography © Richard Glover Photography © Richard Glover Photography © Richard Glover Photography +36

Autodesk Launches Foundation Aimed to Solve "Epic Design Challenges"

00:00 - 5 March, 2014
Autodesk Launches Foundation Aimed to Solve "Epic Design Challenges", Butaro Doctors’ Housing / MASS Design Group. Image © Iwan Baan
Butaro Doctors’ Housing / MASS Design Group. Image © Iwan Baan

Autodesk has launched the Autodesk Foundation, an organization which will "invest in and support the most impactful nonprofit organizations using the power of design to help solve epic challenges." In an effort to aid those tackling global issues such as "climate change, access to water, and healthcare," the foundation will provide select design-oriented grantees with software, training and financial support.

Center for New Technologies / Francisco Mangado

02:00 - 4 March, 2014
Center for New Technologies / Francisco Mangado, © Roland Halbe
© Roland Halbe

© Roland Halbe © Roland Halbe © Roland Halbe © Roland Halbe +9

  • Architects

  • Location

    Rúa de Ramón Baltar, 15702 Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Spain
  • Area

    3300.0 sqm
  • Project Year

    2007
  • Photographs