Name   4 x 4 HOUSE
     
Architects   TADAO ANDO
     
Date   2001 - 2003
     
Address   7 Chome-15 Kariguchidai, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
     
Floor Area   22.56 SQ. M.
     
School    
     
Description  

This is an extremely small private house standing on the coast of the Inland Sea in Japan. Eroded by the sea, much of the site is under water. The site is unique. Regulations regarding shore protection limited construction to a small , 16.5 foot -square space. The biggest problem was creating ample living space on the extremely small site. The more difficult the problem, the more interesting Ando's solution is likely to be. This is an example of Ando's style of humour. Confronted with a difficult task, his was able to create a building unlike anything we have seen before. A Japanese periodical called "Brutus" (published by MAGAZINEHOUSE) invited persons interested in asking Ando to design a building to submit possible sites. This unique site was chosen by Ando himself from the various submissions.
Ando has taken a plan, 13 feet by 13 feet (4 x 4 m) - the maximum dimensions possible for the site - and created a hour story tower. The entrance and utility room are on the first floor , a bedroom is on the second floor , a study is on the third floor and the living/dining room (the heart of the house) is on the top floor. The extremely small site permitted nothing elaborate; the organization is simple and clear. The stairway occupies a large percentage of the floor space, especially since each floor is only 13 foot-square. However, the stairway takes up only half the space on the top floor since there is no need for it to go any higher. Advantage was taken of this fact to displace the topmost floor by three feet and give the kitchen and living area more space. Here, too, wo can see Ando work his particular magic - the transformation of the accidental into the inevitable.
The topmost floor is a cube, four meters to a side, that is pushed out toward the sea. The seaward side is completely glazed; the view is such that we feel as if we were out on the sea on a boat. The space allows us to fully enjoy the wide expanse of the sea and the sky. It corroborates Ando's assertion that expansiveness of space has nothing to do with the size of a building.
Since its completion, Ando has published a scheme for an addition to this building. The addition is a glass box on the beach that becomes submerged by the sea to full tide. It is a poetic proposal. However, Ando has in fact built a house of the same shape next to this building, it is the same in shape yet different  - a twin by made of a different material. The two houses of the same form , one concrete and the other wooden, have great impact on the coastal landscape.
In his younger days , Ando published a project called Twin Wall; he had also built a house called Soseikan (literally "Twin Residence" - also known as the Yamaguchi House). If the Row House in Sumiyoshi is a work with a powerful monistic character, Ando has from time it time also used similar, twinned forms for windows and ducting and created dualistic works. Here, however , he has given the two houses, arranged side by side , such similar forms that a seascape of a kind with which we are all familiar is transformed into a surrealistic landscape. 

     
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