Housing Prototype

Vanishing Walls

The response to this competition considered the need for an approach to housing design that creates greater flexibility and openness in planning to meet diverse lifestyle requirements.

The concept of this project does not question the role of walls in a house but tries to overcome their major inconvenience : their permanence. Walls divide spaces. In a house, they help to separate activities and occupants. Everyone has the opportunity to isolate oneself, to sleep while others are watching TV, to play while others relax, to eat while some are studying. Walls help to contain sound, light and odors to a defined space. But walls are also divisive when more communal activity is required or preferred. Vanishing Wall is an opportunity for inhabitants to tailor the space of the house as required. The simple rectangular plan is divided into five bays, divided by walls that slide up and down  and define a multitude of new spaces. The walls are treated as pieces of furniture, as joinery : a bookshelf, a painting exhibition, a wardrobe, a kitchen cupboard, and are independently operated by a motorized pulley system.

As the walls of the internal living space disappear to the upper level, they create larger spaces on the ground floor. While on the first floor compartmentalized spaces, intimate gardens and terraces are created. This situation is then reversed when the walls slide down to the ground floor, opening up views beyond from the upper level and closing down to more traditional ‘rooms’ below. There are then multiple variations and subtleties that can occur between these two extremes, as each piece is moved and adjusted independently to the others. Vanishing Walls is a constantly changing house, entirely flexible to the variety of needs of contemporary living.

Design team: Thierry Lacoste, David Stevenson
Date: 2004
Photography / images: Lacoste+Stevenson Architects