HOUSE OF MUSIC
House as musical instrument
Designed for two musicians, a symphony conductor and an award-winning oboist, House of Music is a six-story family home in the Shilin district of Taipei. The design concept places the music room – called the Music Box – as the central organizational element of the house. The Music Box, a vertical sound and light channel linking all the floors, is a place for making music, whereas the concrete tower structure of the house becomes a “reverberation chamber”, allowing the couple’s musical synergy to float throughout the house across different floors and during separate activities. The design concept expresses the clients’ belief that the act of music should not be hidden behind closed doors but should be immersive into everyday living activities.
The Music Box is designed with built-in auditorium-style seating to accommodate both formal recitals and impromptu gatherings; while the operable screen of the Music Box allows music to resound throughout the entire tower house during acts of music. The entire Music Box is built from 400 walnut modules protruding at different angles to control direct echoing during musical performances. Of these wooden modules, 150 are operable screen panels that form a porous skin system to the living and dining areas, bedrooms and bathrooms. Sections of this screen system can be opened or closed independently, thereby allowing sounds from the Music Box to be “tuned” in and out depending on spatial use and occasion.
To that end, the house itself becomes a spatial musical instrument: a place of free musical interaction where one can appreciate music in any corner of the house, whether cooking, eating, sitting or lying down.
Limited by a very small footprint area, each floor of the tower forms its own room. The Music Box on the third floor is the core connector between the living and dining room on the second floor below, and the bedrooms on the fourth and fifth floors. The wine cellar in the basement – with a generous capacity of 1,500 bottles – inspired by red wine swirling freely in a glass. It’s organic forms in bold purple marry the client’s favorite color with his great passion for wine.
Throughout the home, the use of brass, cork and other materials commonly found in musical instruments further integrate and reinforce the core spirit of the building and inhabitants. Another essential aspect of the construction planning was the onsite insertion of two Steinway pianos, crucial “organs” for bringing the Music Box to life, and weighing a total of half a ton.
The exterior elevation design is inspired by musical notations, with windows dancing like black notes on the horizontal line patterns cast by the concrete formwork. The windows are intentionally non-hierarchical, and defy traditions of shaping and sizing windows according to private and public functions. Instead, window panels are irregularly allocated to express rhythm and musicality on the building exterior. The result is architecture that tells the musicians’ story from the inside out, a story that connects their past, their work, their hobbies, their family, and their future.