Man­hat­tan for all sea­sons with shut­ters

Shigeru Ban’s build­ing will turn heads even in Man­hat­tan, Julie Earle- Levine says

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Landmarks -

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

build­ing

can

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

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