Q: What has floors where the windows should be, and widows where the floors should be?
A: The Vertical Glass House in Shanghai designed by China-based firm Atelier FCJZ.
Project architect Lu Bai explains that the house is a “90-degree rotation of the typical glass houses completed during the Modernist period, placing more of an emphasis on spirituality and materials. With enclosed walls and transparent floors as well as roof, the house opens to the sky and the earth, positions the inhabitant right in the middle, and creates a place for meditation.” This means that someone standing in the basement can look upward and see the sky, despite the four stories that separate the ground floor from the ceiling.
The project was conceived of in 1991 for an urban housing development competition. It was finally erected in 2013 as part of the West Bund Biennale of Architecture and Contemporary Art. Now the dwelling functions as a guest house for visiting artists.
The structure is shaped like a rectangle, taking up only 40 square meters of ground. A steel column ascends from floor to ceiling, with metal beams intersecting at each floor to divide the levels into quarters. The walls are made from concrete but feature rough wood paneling on the outside. The exterior surface is punctuated by narrow horizontal slats where the glass rests against the walls, allowing natural light to seep up into the building. The designers fashioned these slats with light fixtures on the outside to illuminate the façades when it gets dark.
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