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In recent years, Japanese architects have garnered a select international following with their interpretation of modern and postmodern design for specialized audiences. A clear example is the Shell House, whose structure—steeped in the Karuizawa woods in Nagano, Japan—invariably evokes a seashell with an undeniable sculptural presence.
The Shell House is a project that integrates with nature. Seen from above, its “J” shaped design is easy to distinguish. The sophisticated architecture is composed of two distinct ovals—like the cross section of the shell, with its curves and elliptical shapes. When you face the structure for the first time, what stands out is the white concrete layer and peculiar structures that depart from the local architectural canon.
Designed by Kotaro Ide of ARTechnic Architects, the Shell House boasts wide-open spaces, and many of its fixtures are built into the building’s walls. The house´s appearance is futuristic and classic at the same time, with optimum use of natural light and minimalist decor. The pines planted outside play with the intention of using the amazing views as the focal point.
The utterly comfortable Shell House seems to float in the middle of the forest. Its curved shapes allow the surrounding vegetation to get ever so closely to the building, making it part of the ecosystem—yet the real strength of the this magnificent home lies in its ability to resist high humidity and the low temperatures of its environment.As part of the solution, the Shell House was built on a raised platform 5 feet above the ground, which not only protects it from direct contact with the moist soil, but also provides an ideal space to install a custom made heating system.
This heating system—one of the most ingenious we’ve seen—lets you enjoy the ideal temperature and prevents the accumulation of mold inside of the house. To maximize its performance, the density of the walls varies between 1.5 and 2.5 inches.
The low temperatures in Karuizawa along with the increased humidity levels make for a harsh climate. As a result many houses in the area with a traditional structure and construction are facing overwhelming decaying problems. With this in mind the architect came up with a large shell structure which floats above the ground and is constructed by reinforced concrete. Taking example from other villas of the nearby area which have not been used for many years, Kotaro Ide tried avoiding the common structure and materials used in the construction. The use of reinforced concrete for the residence will assist the residence in protecting itself from the high humidity levels and the cold.
The builders also paid particular attention to comfort and security: the central control system allows you to manipulate various peripherals with only three buttons, and the excellent security system offers complete safety in a place otherwise isolated and lonely. ■