Curtain Wall House

Shigeru Ban (*1957)

Mr. Takeshi, a photographer who grew up in a tiny space, wished for a large house for his family that would be open to its surroundings. With this project he entrusted a well-known architect, Shigeru Ban.

Similar to Mr. Fujimori, the architect and owner of Takasugi-an, Shigeru Ban is known for a very innovative approach to architecture. He is also of a humanitarian mind—designing low-cost shelters for victims of natural disasters in many countries since the 90’s. (Read more at Both of which are reasons for his receiving the 2014 Pritzker Prize.

For Mr. Takeshi, Shigeru Ban designed the Curtain Wall House in Tokyo.

It is definitely open to its surroundings. The house pretty much looks like it’s missing two walls. Instead there are two enormous white curtains!

On the ground floor you can see plenty of space for parking and on the right Mr. Takeshi’s photography studio is barely visible. On the first floor you will find an open space, which combines the functions of a kitchen, dining and living rooms, plus a terrace. On the second floor are the family’s bedrooms.

The house is intended to be a reflection of the owner’s lifestyle. It is open to the outdoors and utilizes contemporary materials in new interpretations of traditional Japanese styles. Wide deck spaces are attached to the east and south sides of the second-floor living room and tent-like curtains are hung on the outer facade between the second and third floors. Interior conditons are controlled by opening and closing this Japanese-style “curtain wall”. In winter, a set of glazed doors (in combination with the curtain) can completely enclose the house for insulation and privacy. This thin membrane takes the place of shoji and sudare screens, and fusuma doors that appear in the traditional Japanese house.

Shigeru Ban Architects

The idea of a curtain wall is nothing new in architecture. It originated in the times of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (who replaced walls with glass in the Farnsworth House) and refers to any facade that provides no structural or load-bearing capacity. As Wikipedia says, it’s there to keep the people in and the weather out. But Shigeru Ban took it to the extreme.

Behind the curtain, a set of sliding glass wall panels works with the curtain to create a completely insulated and private interior.

Get a better idea of this 1995 steel and reinforced concrete building with Bill Harper’s SketchUp flythrough.

Would you like to live here?

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