7 Nested Homes That Challenge the Conventions of Urban Privacy

The following seven projects toy with a provocative question that is central to sustainable urban living: how can we produce safe residential havens and nature-filled oases amidst expanding urban chaos?

Jennifer Geleff Jennifer Geleff

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The following seven projects toy with a provocative question that is central to sustainable urban living: how can we produce safe residential havens and nature-filled oases amidst expanding urban and suburban chaos? In responding to the so-called perils of urbanity, often residents have grown accustomed to the imposition of increased measures for security, privacy and privatization. Urban residents are encouraged to draw down their shades at night and know the strict boundaries of their own property. However, in designing for the health, vitality and vibrancy of humanity, we must consider how hyper-privacy becomes reclusion, and how reclusion begs withdrawal.

Throughout the residences included in this collection, outdoor space expands beyond typical patios, balconies and backyards. Primarily concentrated in Confucian societies across East Asia, these houses offer critical and illuminating insight for the Western world as it grapples with an uncertain future for shared, outdoor space. In an age where we must seek cooperative social harmony, the following firms work to blur the inside and outside, and challenge what exists within and without built walls and property lines. In the words of Sou Fujimoto Architects behind N House, “One might say that an ideal architecture is an outdoor space that feels like the indoors and an indoor space that feels like the outdoors.”

© Studio Velocity

© Studio Velocity

© Studio Velocity

© Studio Velocity

© Studio Velocity

© Studio Velocity

Montblanc House by Studio Velocity, Okazaki, Japan

For this project, Studio Velocity contemplated how to create an open, breathable space on such a tightly enclosed site. The resulting design is a gable-shaped house with expansive, uninterrupted windows. The windows provide inhabitants with a private vantage point that is wholly unique from any of the neighboring houses. Characteristic of neither densely packed urban skyscrapers nor rural open skies, Montblanc House possesses a distinct and dreamy sense of place.

© Edmund Sumner

© Edmund Sumner

© Studio Lotus

© Studio Lotus

© Randhir Singh

© Randhir Singh

House with a Brick Veil by Studio Lotus, New Dehli, India

Built for “conservative clients,” House with a Brick Veil is a “contemporary progression,” which provides the possibility of openness without compromising privacy. The clients — a retired couple — sought to create a calming and personal oasis in the center of urban chaos. The design plan and its site usage push the building back in order to render space for courtyards. The courtyards wrap around the building at multiple levels, providing a protective skin and active buffer between the home and city.

© Sou Fujimoto Architects

© Sou Fujimoto Architects

© Sou Fujimoto Architects

© Sou Fujimoto Architects

© Sou Fujimoto Architects

© Sou Fujimoto Architects

N Houseby Sou Fujimoto Architects, Oita, Japan

N House is comprised of three progressively smaller shells, which are perfectly nested inside of one another. The outermost shell encloses the entire premise and creates a covered, semi-indoor garden. Without distinct boundaries, residents build their lives within this gradation or continuum of different domains.

© no.555

© no.555

© no.555

© no.555

© no.555

© no.555

NDA [Planter House]by no.555, Yokohama, Japan

Located on top of a steep slope, NDA [Planter House] offers panoramic views of Yokohama and Mount Fuji. For this project, no.555 sought to create a building deeply connected with the surrounding elements. The architect writes, “Time alters things, seasons weather stones. Architecture is a part of that natural process. Nevertheless I am convinced that architecture can survive for a long time and co-exist with the natural environment.”

© KIM Jae Kyeong

© KIM Jae Kyeong

© YounghanChung Architects

© YounghanChung Architects

© YounghanChung Architects

© YounghanChung Architects

9X9 EXPERIMENTAL HOUSE by YounghanChung Architects, Yangju, South Korea

For this project, YounghanChung Architects wanted to suggest and experiment with a few methods of blurring the border between interior and exterior space. Such methods include the application of transparency and glass, and using them to experience “external phenomena” inside the house. With this design, the architects wanted to create the illusion that the outside landscape had been smoothly invited and incorporated indoors.

© TT Architects

© TT Architects

© TT Architects

© TT Architects

Fire Works Villa by TT Architects, Ehime Prefecture, Japan

For Fire Works Villa, the client had two specific requests: to have all living space on the sunny second floor and to be able to watch the fireworks in the summer. Preocuppied with geometry, TT Architects pursued careful calculations to ensure that the project would entail minimum waste while creating maximum space.

© TETSUO KONDO ARCHITECTS

© TETSUO KONDO ARCHITECTS

© TETSUO KONDO ARCHITECTS

© TETSUO KONDO ARCHITECTS

© TETSUO KONDO ARCHITECTS

© TETSUO KONDO ARCHITECTS

House with Gardens by TETSUO KONDO ARCHITECTS, Yokohama, Japan

Although Yokohama city is quite developed, the surrounding hills and lush forested areas are still viscerally apparent. For this home, exterior spaces are mixed into the house — a garden space is accessible from each room so that the sky and forest can be enjoyed throughout. The design allows the family to circulate the house by a variety of different pathways, which create a pleasant and lively experience, constantly injected with elements of the outdoors.

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© Fluid Motion Architects

Jaam Tower // Fluid Motion Architects

Tehran, Iran

© Tim Van de Velde Photography

CASWES // TOOP architectuur

Westouter, Heuvelland, Belgium

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