ANT FARM HOUSE
An ultra thin new house built over an old stone house
The Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century World Architecture
XRANGE wraps a new layer of 80- 177cm wide by 7m high living spaces around an existing indigenous stone house to create an “extreme” new house of outrageous living proportion. The newly added programs of pantry, bar, study, library, dog house and bathrooms are new “rooms” averaging about 4㎡ in footprint, but with soaring 7m headroom. The new house becomes a sequence of small narrow vertical spaces that interlock like the spaces within an ant colony.
The form strategy creates a “found interior” for the new house from the “internalized exterior” of the old house. New usages are assigned to the original window, door and air conditioner openings, transforming them into actual exterior windows, interior windows, doorways or display cubby holes depending on their location and orientation. Views of surrounding mountains and the city below are revealed through the overlapping of new/external and old/internal windows. The resultant irregularity gives an unexpected spatial signature to the house.
Constructed out of two steel box-frames attaching onto the front and back of the old rusticated stone house, the new house also act as a lateral structural reinforcement as well as its privacy screen wall. The design concept also works to reinforce the lateral structural stability of the old rubble walls built entirely from the stacking of 40cm thick rough granite blocks with poor seismic performance.
Within the old stone walls, the den- a built-in 9㎡ upholstered crib nick-named the “ashtray”- is a favorite party hang out that turns into a movie tray once the black and green leather panels between the living room and the den are drawn.
The 3㎡ study is accessed through a set of 7m tall “cross-hatched” wooden doors with authentic Porsche GT3 exhaust pipes as door handles. Inside this soaring reading space with an entirely upholstered “floor”, there is a work desk and tall transparent Perspex shelves for books and artifacts display. On the edge of the study are rubber seats that open onto the foyer bar which serves as the main connection space of the house. The foyer bar opens onto a generous deck outside, a third of which is actually a giant operable roof for the 5-car garage below.
The new 4.5㎡ bathroom with an outrageous dimension of 80cm(w) x 550cm(l) x 700cm(h) holds a guest bathroom (1F) and the master shower and tub (2F). The master bath tub is integrated with the wood lining that wraps the entire bathroom section which also extends out onto the 2F balcony decking. Within this continuous flow of wood hangs the tinted glass box of the master shower. Above head is a sliver of glass ceiling that creates a seemingly outdoor yet surreal bathing experience suspended in space.
The ant farm house is a multitude of intricate living spaces carved out between the old and the new houses with a simple and uncluttered clarity that is intentionally kept understated and raw. The exuberant spatial irregularity of the new narrow living spaces resulted in an intimate and modest dwelling without any of the expected convention for luxury.