On a quite residential are a in Bunkyo district in Tokyo lies the Crystal Brick, a house whose glass block walls reminiscent of a Lego structure provide a luminous space accommodating the clients’ request for a residence as bright as the crystal they collect as a hobby.
This double household designed by Tokyo based practice Atelier Tekuto is influenced by the architectural concept of Mansory that uses identical objects on top of each other achieving totality. “Constituting the whole structure from cells, it means that the weight of the structure can be distributed,” says Yasuhiro Yamashita, head architect of Atelier Tekuto.
The project, which is an extension to the old wooden building, had to accommodate the main requirements of the clients that of a two family space full of light. Architect Yasuhiro Yamashita admits that he was highly influenced by the hobby the family had, that of collecting crystals. “That was where my inspiration for this building comes from,” he says.
The practice decided to design the house using glass block walls. This way they achieved the “sunlight to penetrate the house,” he adds. Using glass blocks to construct the walls was a challenging idea and they thus needed to closely collaborate with structural engineers, manufacturers, constructors and with the University laboratories to examine the use of glass block. “ I talked to the company of the brick and they said no twice as they couldn’t take the responsibility without experimenting. We then asked them to share the responsibility together and they said yes,” says Yasuhiro Yamashita.
As Yasuhiro Yamashita explains, the practice sought at providing the space with density and depth. “ We divided the function of the surface into three layers,” he says. One layer is semi-transparent for the perception of the light, the other one is non transparent for the perception of distance and to create a boundary with the outside world and the third layer is transparent. “We thought of avoiding neutrality and commonness by layering three different layers on the surface of the glass block and by bringing the manifold diversity to the space,” he says.