The Next 21 project is a unique example of experimental housing centred on highly individualised lifestyles, a high-density urban context and resource conservation conducted by Osaka Gas Company. The building was developed with two main concepts: system building and two-stage housing. System building refers to the building being made up of a series of subsystems which they define based on differing lifespan and production paths (structure, cladding, infill and plumbing). Two-stage housing signifies the separation of the building into two categories: the skeleton (permanent, shared infrastructural property) and the infill (shorter, individual property). The project embraces the idea of a vertical neighbourhood with enlarged circulation spaces referred to as ‘avenues’ and ecological gardens which allow for social interactions and activities to take place vertically throughout the building. The building is a continual experiment documenting the efficiency (time, cost and material conservation) of various changes (e.g. movement of water-related facilities and external walls, addition of Japanese-style room) over the life of the building.
The building consists of 18 individualistic residential units of 140m2 (6 per a level) which were designed by 13 ‘outside’ design teams in addition to the design team which developed the skeleton matrix. The individual units are named after the lifestyles they look to embody (e.g. House with Office, 3-generation house, Home party house). The building is highly coordinated in terms of size and shape of components, performance of equipment, exterior wall line, arrangement of windows and green zones. A rulebook was established so that the building could continually be adapted without the need of the original designers. The generous floor to floor heights (lower level 4.2m, upper floors 3.6m) allow for a quality of openness, but also provide ample space to run all services, greater storage space and space for mezzanine and Japanese-style sunken floors ‘kotatsu’. Kitchen and sanitary facilities can be located anywhere in the building with the use of flexible piping installed separate of the main structure. Changing of the exterior panels can be accomplished from the inside eliminating the need for scaffolding.
Images courtesy of Professor Seiichi Fukao and Osaka Gas