This house in Tokyo was constructed using an industrially manufactured steel framework and cladding, making it look more like a factory than a residence (+ slideshow).
Boundary House – also known as LGS House #1 – was designed by Japanese office Niji Architects for a client who operates a steel fabrication business and was looking to demonstrate the potential of light gauged section (LGS) construction.
This building method is similar to wood-framed construction, with thin steel sections replacing the timber components.
The house's frame is made from lipped-channel steel, which is rolled to form hollow sections that are lightweight and cheap to produce.
The channels are formed, cut to size and have holes added at the factory, where connecting components are also produced so all of the parts can be quickly assembled on site.
"The steel frame was assembled quickly due to the light weight of the LGS lip channel enabling one builder to carry it," explained architect Masafumi Harada, who runs the studio alongside Maiko Taniguchi.
"Due to the load of the house being light, the foundation didn't require any pile and the simplified foundation construction contributed to reducing the cost," he said.
Nuts and bolts were the only method required to fix the steel channels together. The resulting frame was left exposed to celebrate its simple construction.
"The details were designed to be seen," said Harada.
Rigid panels that form the floors, walls and roof were fixed directly to the LGS framework, as were a balcony and its protective awning.
An extruded porch and a roof covering a parking space for bicycles are the only other additions to the metal-clad box.
The site is surrounded by other buildings and a pair of car parks, which informed its predominantly solid facades. Strips of insulated glazing wrap around the base and top of the ground floor walls, as well as the top of the upper storey.
"With parking lots in both front and back, the nature of any future built projects near the site is unknown," said Harada.
"With that condition in mind, the house is built to protect privacy under all circumstances, and acts as a border between the surrounds and indoor living environment."
The ground floor accommodates an open-plan living and dining space with a kitchen positioned at one end. An entrance porch opens onto a hall that connects the main space with a bathroom and powder room.
A staircase with an integrated storage area below ascends to the upper floor, where a partition containing a toilet and wardrobe separates two bedrooms.
"Windows wrapping the house above and below were carefully balanced in order to create a comfortable, rhythmical living area while maintaining abundant light and a tranquil, private bedroom," added the architect.
The house is intended as a prototype for this building method. The owner's intention is to develop a series of homes using LGS construction.
Photography is by the architect.
Architects: Niji Architects + Nichinan Iron Construction Co.,Ltd.
Principal designer: Masafumi Harada + Maiko Taniguchi / Niji Architects
Construction: Nichinan Iron Construction Co. Ltd.