Hanging Gardens

Second Street House
Residential: Completed 2010

This reconstruction project started off with a simple notion of parasitic plant. The existing two-storey building was maintained and above that, one-and-a-half more storeys was added. Much like a parasitic fern that perches on trees, the structural strategy of “hanging” two more storeys above an existing, did not stop at a metaphoric. Coupled with the Owners’ request to keep road-facing windows to a minimal to avoid noise and yet to have abundant natural light and ventilation from its North-South orientation, we conceived a strategy that tapped into a hanging tree as a source of life and activity within a 4-storey house, as it would be a tall branching tree.

All the floors of the 2nd, 3rd and attic floors were setback from the party walls, drawing in natural light from the skylights and giving uninterrupted passage of air through both wind channels of the house. Every room steps out sideways into a balcony suspended within the void next to the walls. These balconies are located where the beams and pipework are. The windows of each room open towards the changing scenery of the ‘living walls’ where natural scaffolding wood strips manifest the shadows and therefore time. Every window reveals part of a larger artwork and when one steps within the void, the entirety of the artwork reveals a vertical connectivity. Buffering the artwork from the rooms, the void vertically connects every floor: in space, in ventilation, in vertical circulation.

Rooms that span the width of the house become the static spaces. The wind channels volumetrically become the source of all activity, physical, spatial and with light, brings a family together in the qualities that we hope represents good living space.