Vertical Glass House by Atelier FCJZ has
glass floors instead of windows

| 22 comments
 

Glass floors allow residents to look down from a dining table into a toilet inside this windowless concrete house in Shanghai by Chinese firm Atelier FCJZ (+ slideshow).

Vertical Glass House by Atelier FCJZ

Yung Ho Chang of Atelier FCJZ originally designed the Vertical Glass House as an urban housing prototype for a competition in 1991. Twenty-two years later, the studio was able to realise the project as part of the West Bund Biennale of Architecture and Contemporary Art.

Vertical Glass House by Atelier FCJZ

The building now functions as a guesthouse for visiting artists and architects. Closely based on the original design, the four-storey house has a glass roof and glass floors between each level, meaning that residents can look all the way up from the basement to the sky.

Vertical Glass House by Atelier FCJZ

According to project architect Lu Bai, the house is a 90-degree rotation of the typical glass houses completed during the Modernist period, placing more of an emphasis on spirituality and materials.

Vertical Glass House by Atelier FCJZ

"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," he explained.

Vertical Glass House by Atelier FCJZ

A single steel column extends up through the exact centre of the building. Together with a series of criss-crossing joists, it dissects the floors into quarters that each accommodate different activities.

Vertical Glass House by Atelier FCJZ

On each floor, one of these quarters is taken up by a steel staircase that spirals down to the basement from a double-height second floor.

Vertical Glass House by Atelier FCJZ

The house's austere concrete walls were cast against wooden formwork, which was left rough on the outside and sanded on the inside to give a contrast in texture between the facade and the interior walls.

Vertical Glass House by Atelier FCJZ

Each glass floor slots into a pair of narrow horizontal openings in the walls and the architects have added lighting along these junctions to create stripes of light on the building's facades after dark.

Vertical Glass House by Atelier FCJZ

The overall footprint of the house is just 40 square metres.

Vertical Glass House by Atelier FCJZ

Here's a project description from Atelier FCJZ:


Vertical Glass House

Vertical Glass House was designed by Yung Ho Chang as an entry to the annual Shinkenchiku Residential Design Competition organised 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.

Vertical Glass House by Atelier FCJZ
Basement plan

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".

Vertical Glass House by Atelier FCJZ
Ground floor plan

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 four-storey 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 centre with steel beams divide the space in quarters and frame each domestic activity along with the concrete walls.

Vertical Glass House by Atelier FCJZ
First floor plan

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 facade. 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.

Vertical Glass House by Atelier FCJZ
Cross section

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.

Vertical Glass House by Atelier FCJZ
Original drawings

Office: Atelier FCJZ
Principal Architect: Yung Ho Chang
Project Architect: Lu Bai
Project Team: Li Xiang Ting, Cai Feng

Vertical Glass House by Atelier FCJZ
Original drawings

Location: Xuhui District Longteng Road, Shanghai, China
Client: West Bund
Building Area: 170 m2 Structural
Type: Housing/Exhibition

Vertical Glass House by Atelier FCJZ
Original drawings

 

  • calle wirsch

    One more example for useless architecture – just to have a ‘new’ idea. Perhaps good to use as a learning exercise for building services engineers.

    • amva

      Ah, like you had the idea. Must have balls to do it…

  • Munchman

    Okay, before everyone starts talking about how gross it is to have a toilet with glass floor and ceiling or the pragmatics of the whole thing, this is kind of f***ing awesome.

    • Concerned Citizen

      Sorry, you just can’t ignore the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

  • Clarice

    Looks like somewhere one would keep Hannibal Lecter.

  • Breadcrumbtrail

    Wow, extreme!

  • Michele Pappagallo

    Perhaps way too extreme. But the program clearly talks about lighting and transparency into an “almost blind box”. Interesting and inspiring.

  • H-J

    Beautiful work. Would love to try and live there. Reminds me of Lebbeus Woods’ drawings that ended up in Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys.

  • Seb H

    Let’s see who actually gives a sh**!

  • Chris MacDonald

    Really interesting concept and yes I don’t much fancy someone watching me from beneath whilst I’m on the toilet. But if you look past that, it’s a wonderful, wonderful idea. Would love to spend a whole 24 hours in there to see how the light changes over the course of the day/night.

    • Concerned Citizen

      You can’t ignore the toilet issue, though.

  • kenny

    Excellent, a building where you can watch someone defecating while eating dinner.

  • Concerned Citizen

    Pity the fools who are condemned to this abominable place.

  • Romain_M

    This would make a nice set for a reality TV show (“big brother”, or the “eye”?). Some-one call the Kardashians!

  • mmrenner

    I think this falls into the category of “just because you can doesn’t mean that you should.” You can’t ignore the quality of the human experience in a space when you’re designing, it’s what makes architecture what it is.

  • Smack

    Oh my god did you even read it?

    It’s a house run by the local biennale association as artist housing. You need to calm down.

  • Concerned Citizen

    Thank you for not living close to me.

  • Naimit

    Please pardon me if I’ve misunderstood, but isn’t your above statement a fine summation of probably the harshest criticism one could level at this project? That it has nothing to do with the actual end users but is instead “architecture about architecture”?

  • aelena74

    Love this house. Need one like this myself, although I would put some more windows.

  • AQ

    Nice picture of architecture. This is a picture of architecture and many of you just read it as a building.

  • rahul

    It basically states in the article how this is project is an intellectual exercise. I guess it’s hard for some people to, even for a moment, step outside the bounds of the typical project delivery workflow that the profession ceaselessly demands for just two seconds.

  • Jornik

    One cannot just ignore the literature. It is a house that doesn’t “care” about the material outside world. It is an idea that successfully became architecture. If you think about it, it is really magnificent. Judge it for what it is and not for what you are. Just imagine if we fuse spiritual and material thinking in the architecture of dense cities. That would be progressive.