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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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