Challenge of Designing Small and Narrow, but Perfectly Formed Buildings
Small and narrow buildings are considered to be one of the landmarks of the contemporary world of architecture. The challenge of such a type of buildings is as follows: narrow buildings should not only fit into the space that is available but also be functional. The urban scale is limited in terms of space. Therefore, the architects working on the projects for big cities made narrow and high rise edifices comfortable both for working and living. The introduction of the so-called ‘pet architecture’ was made in Amsterdam, denoting “buildings that have been squeezed into left over urban spaces, resulting in curious shapes and inventive solutions for drainage, windows and air conditioning.” Small buildings in general and narrow ones in particular were regarded as an analogue edifice type that became a popular type of modern construction. As the major problem of small buildings is considerable lack of space that is necessary for everyday activity and living, modern architects from the advanced countries began developing alternative solutions within the scope of urban scale, new construction, and urban ecology. Japan is recognized as a leader with regard to building small but perfectly formed houses that can satisfy the needs of modern environment. Consequently, the present review focuses on the experience of Japanese architects in the given field.
Wang discusses the peculiarities and functional potential of the Nada House that has been erected by one of the most successful and perspective Japanese companies, Fujiwarramuro. This building presents a vivid example of an efficient construction that unites both narrow design and minimalist element. The given minimalist element is regarded as the optimal solution for maximization of space in small buildings. The problem of lack of space is solved with the help of the following approach: “The white walls, tall ceilings, and large gaps successfully create an illusion of space in the narrow house. A simple color palette of wood and white complete the minimalist and contemporary appearance.” Moreover, the slatted openings provide the house with sufficient amount of light, whereas the stairs guarantee easy access to the second and third floor of the construction.
Nevertheless, reffering to the
essay on accounting, the discussed example is not the most ergonomically designed one; Keret’s house is recognized as the narrowest building in the world. According to Buszynski, its width is equal to the length of the door frame. To be more precise, the width varies between three and less than five feet. Furthermore, this building is an artistic masterpiece and, at the same time, a real house where people can live comfortably. The unique design is dedicated to the architect’s family. The members of Keret’s family deceased in Warsaw during the Holocaust. Thus, it is a memorial erected on the edge of the place where Warsaw Ghetto used to be located. The exceptional narrowness of the building permits Keret to enjoy the house that consists of “micro-kitchen, mini-bathroom, sleeping cubicle and tiny work area, all accessible via ladders.” Hence, the aforementioned examples prove that narrow buildings can be functional and comfortable, provided they are designed cleverly and properly.
Is Narrow Architecture in Hong Kong a Good or Bad Solution?
The narrow type of construction in Hong Kong has been the issue of constant debates recently. It is worth mentioning that the given perspective is innovative and creative because it denies the classic approach to construction. Moreover, it presents a compromise that allows to erect new houses with minimal use of space. As Hong Kong is an overcrowded city with tiny space available, the development of the architectural projects based on erection of so-called pencil buildings is an effective and a workable solution since it uses minimum space and attracts attention due to authentic and extraordinary design ideas. Along with such, narrow buildings tend to form the landscape of the modern big city. Therefore, it may be regarded as an obligatory element that symbolizes minimalistic comfort and an efficient compromise between limited space, functionality, and convenience.
Nonetheless, there are particular dilemmas that concern this issue. For instance, the narrow building does not imply cheapness. The prices for such types of buildings are lower in comparison with average analogues with a traditional structure in some districts of Hong Kong, whereas others are expensive and require peculiar design and significant professionalism. Goldberger presents such examples of expensive, original, and unique buildings in Hong Kong as “the Cullinan and the Opus, in Hong Kong.” Hence, narrow buildings may be luxurious as well as minimalistic. The variety of the edifices of such a type confirms the potential they have for satisfying the needs, preferences, and values of the modern society.
The problem of space distribution may be solved successfully with the help of diverse methods and techniques of modern architecture. To be more precise, the innovative dimension is created relying on minimalism, easy access to other parts of the building that are above and several floors construction. Moreover, the decisions based on the potential of new technologies contribute to the solution of these issues due to the fact that advanced technologies require less space for facilities and equipment necessary for comfortable living.
One of the most central problems in this field is lack of natural light in narrow buildings. It may be solved with creative openings in the walls or in the roof. In addition, fresh air that is supplied by green plants is also an issue of considerable significance. For example, Wang describes an outstanding example of solving all of the aforementioned problems: a roof terrace also provides additional space for plants and is lined with large glazed panels to help bring natural light and ventilation into the living room below. Hence, the narrow buildings in Hong Kong should be considered an optimal architectural solution.
Thus, the contemporary world requires new approaches to architectural solutions and land use. New ideas are implemented in order to balance intensive land use, need for functional and comfortable dwelling in big cities, human scale, and urban ecology. The narrow construction helps not only decrease the land use but also erect new buildings in the places that are not utilized efficiently such as space between traditional buildings. Narrow buildings have such essential advantages as space economy; creative and innovative design; potential for both cheap and expensive edifices; development of a new landscape of the modern urban area; and implementation of minimalist elements into contemporary living conditions. The progress in erection of narrow buildings in Japan is a vivid and significant example of their relevant contribution to the modern architecture as well as to the overall well-being of residents of big urban areas. Therefore, the development of projects of narrow buildings is a real, creative, justified, and viable solution in Hong Kong.