Challenged to build a beautiful, light-filled office on a narrow lot, architecture firm Atelier N turned to pine to craft a highly unusual structure that looks like it’s floating on air.
The base area of the building measures a mere 355 square feet, but the interior feels surprisingly spacious and open thanks to the clever design. The top half, clad in wooden shingles, rests on a zig-zag of pine lumber enclosed by glass. The pine supports the load, allowing for a nearly unbroken expanse of glass on all sides.
Though it looks like a second floor from outside, the upper half of the building is actually a lid of sorts, like a box with the bottom cut off. It provides protection from the sun when it’s directly overhead in the heat of summer, but allows daylight penetration year-round, reducing heating costs in winter. Set on the edge of a rice field, the office takes advantage of a natural cooling effect fro the water.
“The rural scenery passes through the building from the front road, and a quiet scenery spreads from the interior,” says the architect. “And the wind from the rice field goes through the room. Also, since this area is like a village of old farmers, neighbors greet me through the glass because I have been with them since I was born.”
Inside, the pine is lightly finished, allowing its natural beauty to shine through and bringing some texture and warmth to structure otherwise comprised of glass, metal and concrete.
A ladder leads up to a small loft, where a mattress offers a place to rest and nap, and a hatch door opens to let out any accumulated heat. The rest of the space is occupied by desks, lounge areas and a conference table. Sheer curtains can be drawn for privacy or to soften the incoming sunlight, if necessary.
The whole project was achieved on a low budget, and although it’s a modern structure wedged between two more traditional houses, the office avoids detracting from the pastoral scenery.