Architects Curb Their Enthusiasm

crescent house

Innovative form and aesthetics form the backbone of modern architecture.

Breaking the traditional rectangular boundaries of the sector always garners attention, but making that break from tradition is often difficult to navigate in built zones. Efficiency of space and urban building codes can sometimes stifle architectural creativity, as practicality must often trump ingenuity.

However, when it comes to private sector residential developments, especially those on large land parcels, architects are more often allowed to let design freedom reign without the extensive restrictions present in urban and inner city built spaces.

crescent house

This kind of limitless design allows form to take priority over other elements, producing buildings that are aesthetically unique and visually stunning.

Japan’s ‘crescent house’ in Shizuoka by architectural firm Shigeru Ban architects is just such a building. For the above reasons, 242.68 square metre residential building has been built in an arcing C-shape, curving through the landscape and offering prime views from almost every room within the house.

While this shape is certainly not unique, reflecting a style that came into vogue in the 1960s, its modern and flawless execution may very well be.

The key feature of the building lies in its non-traditional form and floor-to-ceiling glass front wall. A glass entrance leads into the ground floor, where a staircase leads to an elevated first floor where all of the living spaces are held.

crescent house

Main living and utility spaces separate the bedrooms and the curved shape of the building allowing unspoiled views of Mount Fuji in the distance without losing privacy to neighbouring properties.

What makes this design so clever, and what separates it from many of the buildings that share this shape, is its simplicity. Both inside and out, the building is simplistic to the point of austerity, which allows for the form to take priority.

While this is but one example of a development that moves away from traditional geometric formation, it stands as a space that celebrates and exemplifies its unique form above any other feature without getting weighed down or distracted by various details.

crescent house

The success of developments of this nature lie in their subtlety, not their extravagance. While ostentatious designs that move away from traditional forms may gain attention, they lose classic appeal. Even design freedom has its limitations when creating developments for mass consumption. A subtle touch can be far more effective than a heavy-handed approach when crossing traditional design boundaries.

By Jane Parkins
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