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Concrete Tower House With See-Through Floors

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Built for an architectural exhibition in Shanghai, this stark three-story structure is one of the most unique residences we’ve recently seen. Though it may seem very closed off from the outside, its interior is wide open in both floorplan and visual height, with glass floors spanning the entire volume. Designed by Atelier FCJZ, the building houses visiting architects from abroad, with full amenities for a single occupant. Rooms are arranged so that each level has a specific purpose, from sleeping to dining to relaxation. While it may seem impractical to have glass space barriers within a highly urbanized environment, the exterior finish of the dwelling retains its privacy. On the whole, the residence is a compelling yet simple architectural idea turned into and effective reality.

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Set in a highly-trafficked public square, the three-story structure has very small slits instead of windows to preserve privacy. Most of its interior light comes from a roof of glass instead of artificial lighting.


The house’s structure is made up of concrete walls draped around metal girders, but that concrete is sided by grey-stained wood sections, each spanning the height of a single story.


A large metal spiral staircase winds up through all four floors of the building, connecting each room and taking up a quarter of the available space inside. Each level makes use of the remaining three cube-forming corners.


Light enters the structure from the small slits in its facade, creating a display of angled beams both by day and by night. The beams move throughout the day, creating an informal architectural sundial.


The dwelling is meant to house only a single architect visiting Shanghai, so the lack of privacy within is not considered an issue. The freedom to design a residence without internal privacy considerations led to the glass flooring, truly opening up the tower’s environment.


At the top of the building, a final level provides undefined open-format space for contemplation and prayer underneath a full-width skylight. A glance at the floors below reveals exposed pipes and wiring running along the structural beams from toilets and sinks.


By night, lights from the city cast a unique geometric glow upon the rooms of the house, while the interior as a whole stays dark due to the lack of light from the sky above.
Atelier FCJZ



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