Ever since I can remember I have been a huge fan of Japanese design in various forms. The Optical Glass House has really gone beyond my initial expectations of the project. I understood that the property was located on a very busy and subsequently noisy street and part of the goal was to create an interior space that was shielded from external noise, but I guess I didn’t think it was really possible to create such a tranquil and quiet residence. This design comes from the very gifted Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP Architects based in Hiroshima, Japan. To truly appreciate this design, after viewing this article and pictures, I highly suggest that your watch the short film linked from the designer’s website at the bottom of this page. As you can see in this first picture, there is quite a large tree growing within the block glass portion of the structure. The Optical Glass House really does take indoor outdoor living to an entirely new level. Although with this design the outdoor elements are actually placed inside the home.
You would certainly not expect to find such a serene and contemporary dream home located on a busy street in downtown Hiroshima, Japan, but without question the Optical Glass House is amazing. Let’s face it, our world is becoming more and more crowded on a daily basis and the demand for more designs like this one will certainly rise as well. This dream home incorporates natural elements, such as trees, within its interior glass block structure. This glass block wall also acts as an almost complete acoustic barrier to the sounds from the street just outside while still maintaining the view of the busy city streets. The glass wall faces the East and acts as a sort of green house for the vegetation planted therein. The vegetation filters the incoming light through the cascading wall of glass and provided protection for the interior dwelling spaces.
The glass wall is about 28 feet tall and made from 6000 glass blocks each measuring almost 2 inches (50 mm) tall by 2 inches thick for a total weight of 13 tons. Due to the height and weight of the wall, these glass masonry units do not have the necessary structural integrity to support themselves. They have subsequently been reinforced by threading 75 vertically positioned metal bolts through the glass blocks. These bolts were suspended from a steel beam with an upward camber that was later encased in concrete. There were also horizontally embedded metal bars placed at 10 cm increments within glass masonry wall. This additional metal structural framework is not only provides the necessary structural integrity and maintains perfect alignment of the glass blocks, but it is also invisible. This structural process allows for the wall to appear as perfectly cascading waterfall of light that is cast throughout the interior of the home.
Photography © koji fujii / nacasa & partners and courtesy of Hiroshi Nakamura
Project Title: Optical Glass House
Function: Residential, Attached Single Family Home
Architectual Design: Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP Co., Ltd.
Structural Design: Yasushi Moribe
Contractor: Imai Corporation
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Site Area: 2623 sqft (243.73 m2)
total floor area : 330sqm (330 m2)
Completed : 2012
Primary Structural Component: Reinforced Concrete