Manabe Equation House

Manabe Equation House

This house is not a house. Or is it? What makes a house a house? It has no doors. It has no windows. It has no floors. It has no roof. Do wooden lattice or flat sheets of glass qualify as floors and roofs? This house has only walls. Heavy, blind, structural walls. And stairs. A lot of them.

This house is non-compositional. Hence, it is decidedly Eastern. Its form is not reached by addition, but by the division of space. A perfect cube is hollowed out. It is then divided in two halves by a vertical plane along its x axis; halved again along its y axis. Furthermore, it is horizontally sliced in 3 equal parts. Their stacking is slightly misaligned.

This house is not stable. It is made of deep, opaque frames. They obstruct, but they do not contain. You can either climb them or crawl underneath them. They are what Bernard Cache calls quasi-cadres. The frames are balancing in a fragile equilibrium. As such, this house is not rigid, nor tectonic.

This house is uncompromising. It doesn’t accommodate creatures of comfort. This house is not made of rooms, but of places. These places are landings. Quick stops in a continuous wandering. This house is kinesthetic. Whenever the path hits a cul-de-sac, a specific function is assigned to that place. Or not? There’s a strange space underneath the entrance; it can only be accessed by a vertical stair. Just like when entering a swimming pool. It doesn’t have any function. Maybe a tea-room? If flooded, wouldn’t it make a great swimming pool? All the masterpieces have swimming pools.

This house is anti-modern. It consciously denies all of the Cinq Points. As such, it can be read as a manifesto for L’Esprit Ancienne: it stands firmly on the ground; its plan is not freed from the structure, but instead is the structure; the same with its blank facades; there’s no window, horizontally or not, and there is no roof (although roof gardens there are two!).

This house is anti-social. It only looks up and down. To the harshness of the ground and towards the endlessness of the sky. This house is not finite. But it is a house from where you cannot see the horizon.

This house is not didactic. It doesn’t communicate anything except it’s implacable logic. There are mathematical equations attached to its facade. They are supposed to give an accurate model of climate change. That is, to trap the epitome of complexity into a formula. There cannot be something more illogical than that. Except poetry.

This house is a work of art.

Authors: Masahiro Harada + MAO / Mount Fuji Architects Studio, Liam Gillick
Place: Izushi-cho, Kita-ku, Okayama, Japan
Year: 2019
Photographs: © Shinkenchiku-sha
Drawings: Daniel Tudor Munteanu

Daniel Tudor Munteanu (b. 1980) is a practicing architect and urban planner based in Suceava, Romania. He was educated in Romania and The Netherlands, has exhibited at the 5th ”Urbanism\Architecture Bi-city Biennale” in Shenzhen and has contributed to “OfficeUS”, the U.S. Pavilion for the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale. His texts and graphic essays were published in San Rocco, Log, ARQ and OASE. In 2015 he curated the “Aformal Academy/Pedagogical Infrastructure” chapter for the 6th Shenzhen ”Urbanism\Architecture Bi-city Biennale” and contributed to the “The State of the Art of Architecture” project for the Chicago Architecture Biennial. In 2016 and 2018 he co-curated the “Unfolding Pavilion” at the 15th and 16th Venice Architecture Biennale. Daniel is the founder and editor of the research project ‘OfHouses – a collection of old forgotten houses’.