This is the first project in the US by the respected architect Shigeru Ban. The minimalist building is stripped down to its fundamental elements — the simple boxiness of the 11 story building opens fully to the street, where a series of commercial metal shutters protect the large living spaces inside. Thanks to the twenty foot-wide shutters and operable glass walls the occupants can control their living space to suit their needs — they can let the daylight stream in or, conversely, close the shutter to deflect the hot glare and maintain their privacy. The windows fully open as well, letting the outdoors pour in on a pleasant day. Mr. Ban is known for using simple materials in new ways. The windows use the same technology as folding airplane hangar doors.
The application of outdoor shutters at this scale greatly outperforms even the most advanced glass in terms of energy efficiency. Shutters are a surprising solution — perhaps for their obvious usefulness — but also because of the rarity of external active shading over the last century. Commonly used as a way to control heat gain and glare before the advent of air conditioning and increasingly advanced glazing, the incorporation of shutters in design had virtually disappeared. The Metal Shutter Houses are notable for their use of this simple technology on a large scale, the value it bring to the occupants, and their low environmental profile.