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Photo © Christian Richters Photography

House Flora

Behet Bondzio Lin Architekten

Taichung, Taiwan
January 2012

A concrete house in Taiwan by Behet Bondzio Lin Architekten contains many spatial surprises within a narrow structure.

By Ingrid Spencer

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Designing a house on a narrow lot in the bustling city of Taichung, Taiwan, called for a certain imagination—especially when it was intended for a family of three with an extensive art collection. The architects, a Münster, Germany–based firm, Behet Bondzio Lin Architekten, wanted to make sure the narrow (30 feet wide) and long (98 feet) house, known as Haus Flora, would be able to receive ample daylight, yet still afford privacy to its residents.

By building a four-story, poured-in-place concrete structure, organized around an internal open courtyard and fish pond, the architects were able to accommodate a range of functions while creating a spacious, livable home. The street elevation opens onto a garage and a passage leading to the courtyard and the gallery/living area at the rear. The lower floors of the house contain four galleries for sculpture, painting, crystal, and photography, while additional living spaces and bedrooms (office and master bedroom in the rear, and children's rooms at the front) are located on the upper levels. There are two below-grade parking levels.

Concrete columns and beams often subdivide the spaces in the 15,000-square-foot house, providing a sense of scale. “We thought about architecture as aperture,” says principal-in-charge Yu-Han Michael Lin, adding that the concrete elements framed views that “arrest and release the stream of daily life.”

Circulation, flow, and views all become salient elements in Haus Flora's design, since open spaces or gaps within the systematically stacked volumes suffuse light from one split-level to another.

The floors are clad in teak, except when they are treated as internal extensions of the garden terraces: The living room, dining room, and sculpture gallery, for example, are sheathed in ocean-gray marble. Bedroom doors slide open and disappear, while bathrooms are placed inside blocks clad in contrasting materials (teak when set inside areas with marble floors, white-painted wood inside spaces with teak floors). Adding to this play of volumes, planes, light, and space are custom-designed glass cubes that match the pattern of the courtyard walkway and display the crystal collection.

Lin's client, Flora Tseng, who spent many years in the United States living near the ocean, says the center courtyard's grass and water give her a sense of her erstwhile scenic environment. But about building this unusual house in central Taichung? “We're proud to have a unique home that pushes forward architecture in Taiwan,” she says.

“To us, it's the perfect blend of design, comfort, and practicality.”

Architect:
behet bondzio lin architekten GmbH & Co. KG
Hafenweg 26 b
48155 Münster, Germany
Tel.: +49 (0) 2 51 / 13 65 1-16
Fax: +49 (0) 2 51 / 13 65 1-29
Website: www.2bxl.com

January 2012
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