Manhattan for all seasons with shutters
Shigeru Ban’s building will turn heads even in Manhattan, Julie Earle- Levine says
SHIGERU Ban, a Japaneseborn, Paris- based architect likes to use unusual materials in his work. Think cardboard houses, bridges made of recycled paper and plastic, and his Tokyo apartment, in which the exterior walls are flapping, white curtains.
His latest project, a residential condominium building in Manhattan, will most likely turn heads in a city of spectacular buildings.
Dubbed the Metal Shutter Houses, Ban’s 11- storey building on the city’s west side will be encased in metal shutters that can be thrown completely open.
‘‘ I wanted to design a building that changes appearance, depending on the occasion and depending on the season,’’ Ban says.
‘‘ Human beings take off their clothes in summer and my building will have more air then, too.’’
The apartments will have their own removable skin, he says.
It will contain nine duplex apartments with metal shutters inspired by the rolling metal gates of nearby Korean delicatessens and neighbourhood art galleries.
‘‘ When the shutters are closed, you can still see through from the inside, through tiny perforated holes, but they are small enough to keep the mosquitoes out.’’
Residents will be able to adjust their own motorised shutters.
There will also be a 6m window wall in each apartment that will pivot open, exposing the entire apartment to the elements.
‘‘ It will have the feel of another city, open and airy.’’ The views won’t be half bad either: the Empire State Building can be seen from each floor and Frank Gehry’s IAC headquarters, the Hudson River and warehouse buildings are close by.
Ban says each of the nine duplexes will occupy a full floor and, if the building’s residents all have their shutters closed at the same time, it will look like a cube.
Alternatively, the building appear completely open.
‘‘ All the buildings in Manhattan are sheathed and depend on airconditioning. Their appearance is the same in winter and autumn, but this building will be able to change its appearance with the seasons.’’
Ban, who studied at the Cooper Union School of Architecture in Manhattan and has had a New York office since 1998, reminisces about ‘‘ the old Manhattan’’ and says the skyline has changed a great deal since the 1980s.
‘‘ Developers are where,’’ he says.
The city’s rents have also skyrocketted. ‘‘ Manhattan is becoming a city only for wealthy people. It is difficult for many people to live here any more.’’
Ban once rented ‘‘ a very good apartment’’ in downtown Soho, on Sullivan between Houston and Bleecker streets, with a coveted, private courtyard and 3.5m high ceilings, and speculated that that apartment would now have a much heftier price tag.
Not that his apartments will come cheap. The apartments will range in size from a 181sq m three- bedroom to a 295sq m four- bedroom penthouse with three terraces.
Prices will start at $ US3.6 million
every- ($ 3.9 million) and go up to $ US10.5 million. Ban’s architect partner, Dean, will live in one, as will his client, who owns a gallery on the ground floor.
Ban says he is excited to be working in Manhattan and to have the chance to design a single building there.
He is also looking forward to continuing his other design projects.
Working with the UN, Ban has shipped paper log houses to Rwanda and built houses with plastic tarpaulins stretched over a cardboard- tube frame.
His original project was in Sri Lanka, where after the 2004 tsunami he rebuilt houses for a small fishing village.
Using local material, one is brick made of mud and cement, and constructed like a Lego block.
‘‘ I created a new problem for many people whose houses were not totally destroyed.
‘‘ Because my house was so much better than the other houses, they asked us for a house, and tore down theirs. We had to tell them no, the budget was limited.’’
Architect Construction on the metal shutter houses begins this month.
The building is due to be completed by the middle of next year.
Open and shutter case: Shigeru Ban’s Manhattan apartments, above and above left