About the Competition:

“House for Enjoying the Harsh Cold” In the Hokkaido town of Taiki-cho, the winters are cold and isolated. But the architecture and lifestyle in this natural state of coldness and inconvenience can also be seen in a positive way. Sustainable approaches that do not rely on machinery can be found in every region. These include gazing up at the starry sky while wearing a coat, jumping from a hot sauna into an intensely cold lake (a special Finnish pleasure), and Japanese hot springs. In Taiki-cho, beautiful water and greenery exist side-by-side with the severe conditions. What would happen if you tried to create a similar situation with artificial materials? Imagine what kind of building you could create without worrying about the locality of the materials. Please design an exciting facility to enjoy the environment in Taiki-cho. Insulation is okay, but please create something that could be used for a short period that incorporates exciting elements like a bonfire – something that human beings have used since primitive times – or the sound of steam.


Participating Universities: 

Yale University (USA), Politecnico of Milan (Italy), Superior Technical School of Architecture of Madrid (Spain), Istanbul Technical University (Turkey), Chulalongkorn University (Thailand), The Oslo School of Architecture and Design (Norway), Tokyo University of Agriculture (Japan), Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Paris La Villette (France), Tokyo Institute of Technology (Japan), Universidade de Sao Paulo (Brazil), The University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong), Seoul National University (South Korea)


Project Description:

The house is a delicate instrument that changes the feeling of the world for its inhabitants. In colder climates it usually creates a strong division between the power of the natural world and the inner environment.

We propose a house that opens its 4 walls, embracing the extreme cold and subtly controlling its architectonic environment. The intention is to create a space that invites to living outside and to enjoying the beauty of seasonal changes in Memu Meadows. This outside is to be felt and experienced differently, gradually, naturally, through the precise architectural character we choose to give to each space.


Therefore, we have inverted the house. The basic shape of the hearth creates four quadrants that each determines a specific environment, modifying a part of exterior climate, while preserving the pure experience of others. The character of the spaces inverts also with seasons. The warmest spaces in winter become the coolest in summer.

The house controls its environment through a composition of platforms of different heights and roofs of different slopes. The main structure is a cross wall that connects all the parts and their specific environments into an open unity.

The inverted house has 4 rooms:

  Garden Room

  Outside Room

  Room for Cooking

  Inside Room

We propose to build the Inverted House on the southwest corner of the site, exposed to the cold winds and the open surrounding landscape. This orientation and the geometry of the roofs favor the sedimentation of snow in the Garden Room. The height of the central wall enhances strong shadows, keeping the snow until late spring. The specific qualities of concrete and timber are combined into a mixed, yet homogeneous construction. Concrete is used for the foundation, for heated floors and platforms and around fireplaces. The walls in massive timber insulate the spaces and support the roofs. Wooden roofs control the circulation of air and connect inside and outside, creating specific architectonic spaces. The fire in the core of the Inverted House is the source of energy, which is distributed in a loop to the Cooking Room, the Inside Room, the Bathroom and the outside Sleeping Room. The floor heating is a slow reacting system, creating a tempered atmosphere. The fireplace with the chimney crossing the Inside Room provides a supplementary heating system with a quick reaction time. The next 4 slides are showing different climatic and spatial conditions of spaces of Inverted House in the winter:

The core of the Inverted House heating the Outside Space by an open fire …… ….And a snow pile in the Garden Room

A warm atmosphere of the Room for Cooking……….And sitting close to the fire in the Outside Room

A protected warm Inside Room with view to the Garden Room

The covered hot outside bath …….And the sleeping place open to the winter sky

The entry to Inverted House is from the north, into a Garden Room, full of snow in the winter….

…… and flowers in the summer. Passing through an opening in the wall……

……we arrive to the Outside Room. Covered by a large, gently sloping roof, it extends towards the wetland around. A series of platforms, elevated from the ground, create distinct climatic zones, taking one closer to the outside fireplace.

The outside Room for Cooking, to be used in all seasons, is protected from the wind, creating a dense atmosphere, filled with fresh air and smells of food.

Passing through a narrow passage around the central core, we arrive to the warmest room of the Inverted House. Heated by water pipes in the floor, and by the open fireplace, the low, narrow, dim-lit space with a sleeping bench along the back wall opens a beautiful view to the garden outside.

Moving around the wall, we reach an external platform above the snow, a place for sleeping in the Garden Room, among the elements. Beyond, under a low roof, hot water invites to take a bath.…..

The climatic conditions of Inverted House change radically, but naturally, from one space to another, from winter to summer. The complex narrative of inside and outside defines clearly the architectural form. In winter, sitting in the warmest space of Inverted House we enjoy the closeness and strong presence of the cold. In summer, the inside space provides a cool, shadowed place to enjoy flowers and surrounding vegetation. Sitting on the platform under the protective roof, we enjoy the pleasant radiation of the core and at the same time the cold breeze of the winter landscape of Hokkaido. The conditions of spaces of Inverted House are precisely described by its architecture. It is conceived to enjoy the harsh cold, but  it is equally enjoyed in all other seasons.


Laura Cristea, Mari Hellum, Stefan Hurrell, Niklas Lenander


Neven Fuchs-Mikac, Thomas McQuillan, Raphael Zuber

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