Completed in the year 2000 by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, the Naked House in Kawagoe provides shelter for a family with five members, including two children and the owner’s elderly mother. The client wanted a house that “provides the least privacy so that the family members are not secluded from one another, a house that gives everyone the freedom to have individual activities in a shared atmosphere, in the middle of a unified family.”
Naked House Technical Information
- Architects1-3: Shigeru Ban
- Typology: Private Residences
- Location: Kawagoe, Saitama, Japan
- Material: Steel
- Evocative topics: Envelope, Light, Hub
- Area: 195 sq.m. / 2100 sq.ft.
- Project year: 1999-2000
- Photographs: © Hiroyuki Hirai | Courtesy of Shigeru Ban Architects
This house is, indeed, a result of my vision of enjoyable and flexible living, which evolved from the client’s own vision toward a living and a family life.
– Shigeru Ban
Naked House Photographs | Shigeru Ban Architects
Located by a river and surrounded by fields peppered with greenhouses, the Naked House is designed as a single double-height space with four rooms on wheels that can be moved freely. To warm or cool the units, the mobile furniture only needs to be placed by the walls, close to the heating or air conditioning vents.
The flexible plan of this house – where only the kitchen and bathrooms have a fixed location – allows to line up the rooms to create larger spaces or gather them all on the terrace to enjoy a large free-flowing space. The individual units are small and have no complements or storage spaces to reduce the weight and optimize movement.
The outer face of the wall consists of two layers of fiber-reinforced corrugated plastic, and the inner face is made of nylon fabric. Both are fixed on wood frames with plastic bags filled with polyurethane foam between them. This stratified enclosure thermally insulates the interior and filters light.
Text by Shigeru Ban Architects
Having met the client only once, I was again considering what to do about this house’s project when the client sent me a facsimile making specific requests. What he wanted was described as a house that “provides the least privacy so that the family members are not secluded from one another, a house that gives everyone the freedom to have individual activities in a shared atmosphere, in the middle of a unified family.” After reading his fax, I knew I should take up this challenge.
The house’s site sits by a river and is surrounded by fields with greenhouses here and there. The external walls are made of two sheets of corrugated fiber-reinforced plastics, and the inner walls made of nylon fabric are both mounted on wooden stud frames and sit in parallel. In between are attached clear plastic bags, carefully stuffed with strings of foamed polyethylene for insulation purposes. A soft, diffused light fills the house’s interior through these bags.
The house consists of one unique ample space of two-story-high in which four private rooms on casters can be moved freely. To reduce weight and optimize mobility, these rooms are not very large and hold a minimum of belongings and fittings.
They can be moved according to the needs of their use. Placed against the house walls, in front of the heating or air-conditioning units, warm air or a cooling breeze can flow into it. They can also be put side by side and create a larger room when their sliding doors are removed. They can be taken outside, on the terrace, for the full use of the space inside. They can also work as a supplementary floor for the children to play on top.
Indeed, this house results from my vision of enjoyable and flexible living, which evolved from the client’s vision of living and family life.
Naked House Plans
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About Shigeru Ban
Shigeru Ban is a Japanese architect known for his innovative work with paper, mainly recycled cardboard tubes used to quickly and efficiently house disaster victims. In 2014, Ban was named the 37th recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Award, the most prestigious in modern architecture.
The Pritzker Jury cited Ban for his innovative use of materials and his dedication to humanitarian efforts worldwide, calling him “a committed teacher who is not only a role model for the younger generation but also an inspiration.”
- Project Team: Shigeru Ban, Mamiko Ishida, Anne Scheou
- Structural Engineers: Hoshino Architect & Engineer Contractor
- General Contractors: Misawaya Kensetsu