The high rises of downtown Hiroshima conceal an unexpected architectural gem that offers an oasis of calm amidst the big city bustle. Architecture studio Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP designed the Optical Glass House to shelter its residents from the acoustic and visual debris of the city streets. The dream-like space of shimmering reflections and flashing tree leaves is contained within a 13-ton façade made from 6,000 glass bricks.
The first floor of the Optical Glass House is occupied by a garden and a glass façade positioned towards the street that maximizes natural lighting. The living areas are located at the far end of the house, and they open onto the courtyard. A sputter-coated lightweight metal curtain between the living room and the courtyard protects the interior.
Glass bricks made from borosilicate, a raw material for optical glass, are highly transparent, and the facade is supported by stainless steel rods suspended from a reinforced concrete and steel frame. Stress is minimized by embedding steel reinforcements within the glass bricks.
Nakamura, who worked under the famous Japanese architect Kengo Kuma before setting up his own studio, shaped the spaces using clean lines and surfaces rich in texture. The serene, natural space provides a counterpoint to the city’s high-tech avenues. The Optical Glass House showcases some of the best design techniques in contemporary Japanese architecture.
Photos by Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP