Urban Cubism: Concrete Blocks Form a Functional Facade

Japanese studio VIDZ Architects built this five-story building in Kyoto on a main street near several factories. Given the busy location, it was determined that the apartments needed to have a high degree of privacy. They got that in spades with this outrageous concrete construction.

Each of the concrete blocks houses an extremely private – one might even say secluded – balcony. The effect of all 12 balconies together looks a little like a video game come to life, or perhaps a LEGO building at human scale.

To add to the extreme privacy, the tall windows on either side of each balcony bear a translucent milky glazing. The covering prevents determined spying neighbors from climbing atop their balcony walls to peer into adjacent homes.

The residents share their building with a single story of offices on the very top floor. The offices lack the enclosed individual cubic balconies but have access to an open communal terrace that looks out over the city.

The chunky cubes adorn two adjacent buildings; the first – the smaller of the two – was finished in 2000 and the second was completed in 2007. A concrete stairwell connects the two, adding a visual as well as a practical continuity to these bizarre geometric constructs.

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