Privacy is a big deal in the home. That’s why we have walls and curtains and doors and things. Because after all, you don’t want even your closest friends and relatives to see what you’re up to all the time. Unless you live in Shanghai’s Vertical Glass House. With glass ceilings and floors, privacy is not its selling point.
Innovative architecture, however, is. First designed by Yung Ho Chang as an urban housing prototype and an entry in the Japan Architect magazine’s annual Shinkenchiku Residential Design Competition in 1991 this slim but spacious home puts a twist on the Modernist idea of transparency. Instead of wrapping the building in glass, though, Chang filled an almost opaque concrete structure with slabs of glass nearly 3 inches-thick. While you can’t see into the building, once inside, you can see everything. From the ground floor, you can see the sky, and the dining room looks down onto the toilet. Which is both incredibly awesome and terribly weird.
The Vertical Glass House isn’t quite a complete monolith, though. Small slits in the concrete — which is rough to the touch on the outside and smooth on the inside — light up at night adding dimension to the building’s façade. The interior design is similarly minimalist with one steel post rising up the middle and crisscrossed by more steel beams which divide the space into quarters. Each quarter is supposed to accommodate a different activity, and there ends up being a lot of space for a building with a footprint of just 130 square feet.
So in some ways, the building is both incredibly private while remaining completely open. Perhaps because of this fascinating juxtaposition, the West Bund Biennale of Architecture and Contemporary Art in Shanghai finally decided to build the Vertical Glass House to become one of its permanent pavilions. It’s now used to host visiting artists and architects. The visitors just have to make sure they’re comfortable around their travel companions, because once inside, they can see everything. [Dezeen]