ARIDO Award: ShadowBox

ARIDO Award: ShadowBox

ShadowBox was designed as a blank canvas that perfectly captures the elusive play of light and shadow on  the interior’s walls, and reveals the juxtaposition and contrasts between the architecture and nature. A heightened sense of movement is created through the single, double, and triple-height spaces and  connective interior elements such as bridges and stairs.

Interior Designer: Johnson Chou, ARIDO

Design Firm: Johnson Chou

Photographer: Ben Rahn

A view from the dining room toward the kitchen and a view of the courtyard with one Japanese Maple in the background

The dining and living areas reveal the effect of light and shadows cast by adjacent trees, gliding silently across the walls and floors of the residence. Since the house is located on a busy street, the exterior openings facing the street were minimized to a single horizontal strip window around the top of the living area triple-height walls. Rays of sunshine peeking through the slim openings silently move across the stairs over time and connect the dining and living areas to create a cohesive and unified space.

A view from the kitchen direction toward the dining table on the main level and the triple height living area walls. A skylight is visible above
Dining area with the kitchen visible in the background, and the glass railing above on the bridge leading to bedrooms on the upper level. There are narrow windows all around letting the light in

The ShadowBox interior tests conventional notions of private and shared zones that are typically conceived horizontally within a space, usually on a single level. Here, the vertical connection between the living area on the lower level, and the dining and kitchen areas on the main level encourages our client’s desired lifestyle of a communicative and engaged family unit; highly communal, yet private when necessary.

Private zones are on the top and bottom levels of the house with the public zones in between. The lower-level, “the basement”, features a living room and a library, as well as  a guest suite equipped with a bedroom and bath that can be closed off for privacy. The unconventional location of the living room is an opportunity for spatial dynamics and imparts an impression that the basement is no longer located below grade. The double height dining room and triple-height living room flow into one another linked by stairs and a bridge. 

The top level features a bridge with a glass railing looking down at the double height dining room, linking the principal bedroom and a secondary bedroom and bath. 

Main bedroom with enclosed bathroom in glass, with a white sheer curtain separating the two areas

Within the principal bedroom, the shower is enclosed with overlapping layers of glass visible as one enters the room. A sheer curtain separates the bed and the bath areas. With a private toilet room, this principal bedroom is maximized in its openness, yet spatially defined. The folding doors at the foot of the bed reveal a Juliette balcony and a box-like, glazed lounging area.

A view of the lower and main level. The library is visible on the lower, basement level and the dining area on the main level with the stairs on the right connecting the spaces

The minimalist bright white kitchen features a large counter for dining or work that appears to project into the exterior courtyard through the floor to ceiling window. With views through this large glass wall, the courtyard becomes an extension of the kitchen and dining level. 

A view from the white minimalistic kitchen toward the courtyard with one Japanese Maple and the counter for dining or work that appears to project into the exterior courtyard through the floor to ceiling window.

The single Japanese Maple, firepit, fountain, barbeque, and table, make this courtyard a wonderfully thoughtout city oasis. While the house is relatively small, the double and triple-height spaces combined with the courtyard view creates the impression of a much larger residence.

With a spa-like or meditative ambience, ShadowBox was created to encourage reflection and the appreciation of the moments of one’s life and surroundings. The residence was conceived as an instrument for the appreciation of the ephemerality of light, shadow, and time. Light is essential to one’s life and mood, and the space is illuminated by natural daylight even on the cloudiest days. 

A view from the stairs looking down at the living area and the tall ceilings with the thin strip of windows letting the light in

This interior has been praised for its rigorous design and particularly for the rarely seen triple-height living space in a relatively small single-family residential space in an urban context. The owners are particularly pleased with the outcome of the project, where “every day is a special day” in the home.

Johnson Chou

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Johnson Chou

Johnson Chou Inc.

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