In architect-speak, a curtain wall refers to any facade- commonly glass- that provides no structural or load-bearing capacity for the building. But leave it to the genius of Japanese architect Shigeru Ban to interpret this term literally, poetically employing an actual curtain as facade wall. The result is not only breathtakingly stunning, but a great example of context-based green design that embraces its natural landscape (talk about passive cooling!). The Curtain Wall House demonstrates a striking amalgamation of simplicity, beauty, old, and new, combining “contemporary materials in new interpretations of traditional Japanese styles.”

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The curtain hangs the length of two stories, framing an indoor loggia-type space when drawn, and revealing a picturesque outdoor patio when the curtain is pulled back. Behind the curtain, a set of sliding glass wall panels works with the curtain to create a completely insulated and private interior. The curtain as architectural element refers back to traditional Japanese design elements such as shoji and sudare screens, and fusuma doors common within the traditional Japanese house. We love the simple solution that is both architectural and artistic, serving as a moving, engaging element that encourages natural air flow and ventilation.

While Shigeru Ban is probably best known for his paper tube structures, the self-proclaimed “paper architect” also has a slew of gorgeously simple and effortlessly green architectural projects under his belt, each of which show a sensitivity to context, nature, and client.

+ Shigeru Ban