This innovative, 900sqm, multi-storey villa was built in Taichung, one of Taiwan’s major cities, a tropical neon-lit conglomeration at the centre of a high-tech industrial district. Set in a narrow rectangular plot surrounded by other constructions, the building’s front elevation facing the street announces the compositional theme: the juxtaposition of alternating solids and voids, opaque and transparent surfaces. Bands of regular-shaped volumes intersect, separating or uniting the different blocks of the building. In this interplay, interiors and exteriors enjoy a seamless continuity.
On the exterior, the orthogonal shaped voids are the garden, courts and terraces. On the interior, staggered, double-height volumes interconnect, creating the same seamless continuity. The glazed-wall day zone is one functional area, giving views from the “exhibition gallery” through to the linear furnishings of the kitchen which in turn flows into the dining area.
In contrast, study and sleeping quarters are secluded, separate volumes on the upper floors.
The typical inner-courtyard layout has here been turned on its side. Although the central “void” separating the other volumes of the house is now set horizontally, it still plays its traditional role of holding the whole together.
The reinforced concrete frame is deliberately visible on the external elevations, the wide bands of materials left unrendered and unclad. On the interior, the reinforced concrete floor slabs and walls become ‘decorative’ elements, juxtaposed to great effect with wood used variously to line walls, floors or for accessories like the simple protective balustrades in the double-height spaces.
Viewed as a whole, the villa is a series of alternating solid and transparent volumes (the full-height glazed facings). A grid of fixed glazed panes alternates with sliding white panels to ensure the passage of light and air. The building’s considerable depth allows daylight to reach far into the interior, while concrete walls seclude the more private areas. Variously shaped lightwells conduct light from the terrace into the kitchen area. The resultant chiaro scuro effect, makes light itself another architectural volume as it reflects onto the stair ramps placed in key positions in full view.