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How MAD Architects Is Draping This Roof Like Fabric

It isn’t expensive, but it isn’t easy, either.

MAD Architects is known for bold formal experiments, where curves and pyramids collide. So leave it to MAD to design one the most audacious kindergartens ever imagined. The Clover House, in Okazaki, Japan, just broke ground, and it transforms a post-war suburban house into a three-story school.

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During the day, it will be a whimsical kindergarten where children can ride a slide out the front door. At night, it will be a private residence for the school’s owner. But its most compelling design element is the roof, which seems to drape over the building’s frame like a giant cloth. The unique design lets the architect reuse the old building’s skeleton while updating the facade. Symbolically, it conveys that this space isn’t just another home on the end of the block.

The roof is a standard pitched design made of common asphalt shingles (that silver sheen is just the gravel finish shining in the sunlight). Just one quarter of the roof is curved, which should be easier to construct than a fully curved roof.

For the curved area, a triangular underlayer will be constructed with the basic, wireframe geometry that also holds insulation and waterproofing. On top of that, there will be a layer of wood paneling. And then on top of that hard wood paneling, builders will apply curved whalebone-like wood strips, along with a “soft finishing panel” on which the shingles will rest.

MAD didn’t have an estimate of what the curved roof would cost compared with a standard one: “It is not about price but how to realize it, solving all technical issues including leaking and smoothing,” a MAD spokeswoman wrote via email. “Finding the appropriate structural engineer, contractor, professional for roofing was big step toward realizing this project.”

In other words, a bit of wood and some asphalt shingles aren’t that expensive. But getting the right expert to actually build the curvy design? That’s the tricky part.

See more here.

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About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started Philanthroper.com, a simple way to give back every day

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