spatial layout


Void Space / Hinged Space Housing

Steven Holl Architects 1991

Fukuoka, Japan

Holl’s scheme consists of a low base on top of which there are five residential towers that are connected by a long horizontal part in the back. The apartments open mainly into the voids between the residential towers, where the roof of the base serves as a reflecting pool. The base contains commercial spaces, a kindergarten and other services that are accessed from the street. There are no usable exterior communal spaces for the residents, which is often the case in Japan.

The general spatial layout and detailing in Holl’s design is intricate. All of the 28 flats are unique in section and plan, and their layouts can be easily modified by opening or closing a system of hinged partitions. As a result of this spatial variance, the windows are also different in each facade. Typical of Holl, Void Space / Hinged Space Housing features hand-crafted details in some of the main communal areas. 

Back in the mid-1990s, when I started studying architecture at Helsinki University of Technology, Void Space / Hinged Space Housing was an exciting reference for housing design due to the exceptionally concept-driven design and execution process of the project, and the quirky originality of the detailing. I still find it inspiring for the same reasons.