Reinterpreting Azuma House for the tropics – What is our relationship with nature?

Academic YearY1S2
TutorLee May Anne


Under the apprenticeship of one of the listed master architects, and your task is to be in charge of designing his/her client’s house, based on your master’s philosophy and vision of architecture. Your master architect is Tadao Ando.

Client’s brief

My house said;

enclosed in a peaceful serenity
a light
bright yet peeking through small openings they are actually happy to be in me

encapsulated with the elements
a section
simple and elevated through nature itself they are actually happy to be in me

enveloped with a skin
a view
safe yet free through the subtle wind that blows by they are actually happy to be in me


This is…
Where light exhibits its trance
and shadow accompanies in dance

This is…
Where it’s as quiet as snow and time passes real slow

This is…
Where it’s safe to retreat
Where the outside never sees our defeat

This is…
Not just imaginary, This is our sanctuary.

Azuma House: a relationship with nature

Tadao Ando’s Azuma House is one of his simplest works that puts the user in direct confrontation with natural forces. A thick, near-windowless enclosure shuts out all sources of distraction from the city, while a private, central courtyard becomes the only source for any experience for exterior conditions. This unsheltered courtyard does not only create the ambiance of the interior, but also forces the inhabitants to encounter natural weather forces while moving in between spaces. Azuma House is thus, a very private, and intimate experience of weather. It also poses us a question: What is our relationship to nature?

“Your plot is 12m above ground.”

The allocated plot of land is on the corner of hypothetical city block, with building regulations that permit rooms to only be constructed 12 metres above ground. Situated on a 10m by 20m plot, rooms starting 12m above ground, how may Azuma House be interpreted for a tropical Singaporean context?

Paint the walls with the weather

A rectangular block is raised up to 12m to comply with regulations, with a courtyard void in the middle similar to Azuma House. Living spaces are then offset from the boundary walls, setting up conditions for a box-in-box form. Roof space is converted into a meditation pool & terrace; an architectural promenade is enabled by spiralling flights of stairs. Boundary walls go up, enclosing the living spaces within.

The result is a house that brings natural light, rain, and ventilation into all spaces. The interior ambiance, which could have been fairly static and decided by a human, now allows itself to be dynamic and slave to the weather: on a rainy day, the walls are painted with raindrops, and the sound of rain invades all rooms; on a sunny day, the walls glow in the warm light of the sun.