Image Credit : Yu-Chen Chao (Zao) Studio





Project Overview

Located in Wandan, Taiwan, The Light-Catching House II is a new experimental building proposed to adapt to Taiwan's humid subtropical climate. This project uses a series of multi-level glass block balconies to define a distinctive semi-natural space that connects the three essential elements of life - sunlight, water and green trees - to human life, and rethinks the traditional Taiwanese street house to re-imagine a new way of living that is sustainable and coexists with nature.

Project Commissioner

Da Yuan Development

Project Creator

Thinklab Architects + Hsiufen Chang Architect


Tzuyi Chuang
Hsiufen Chang
Sinmeng, Yang
Tzuhsuan Chuang

Project Brief

The Light-Catching House II is a new residential typology designed to address a typical problem of traditional Taiwanese townhouses: the disconnection of the neighborhood from its natural environment. We propose an efficient community of 23 residences with a unique front façade facing a public alleyway. The articulation of the façade, shaded by glass block walls and balconies, defines a "semi-natural space" that brings water, greenery and sunlight into the interior spaces. Natural light extends through the dramatic bathroom to the master bedroom, creating articulated, light-filled interiors and bringing vibrant greenery into daily life.

Project Innovation/Need

This "semi-natural" area not only provides a transitional area in terms of environment, slowing down heat transfer and buffering Taiwan's summer rain and storms, but also provides ambiguous transparency in terms of space between private and public. The glass block functions as a "visual filter" to protect the privacy and personal tranquility of the bathroom, and also gives us the opportunity to open up a huge opening while ensuring privacy. This miniature pocket glass courtyard makes the sunlight less realistic with the swaying green trees on the street, the reflection of the water in the bathroom and the colorful refraction of the glass tiles. They create a tranquil light-time ambiance as the family spends time in the sunken tub.
The glass block balcony blurs the boundaries of indoor/outdoor and home/community. During the day, the bonsai behind the glass blocks indirectly embody a continuous green picture frame on the front façade, with a refreshing mood when looking up from the public alley. At night, the balcony illuminates the alley, creating an elegantly lit landscape that encourages neighbors to sit and play in the common space. The light brick balcony allows a slice of sunlight to be projected from the outside in and from the inside out into the lives of individuals, from morning to night, from day to night.

Design Challenge

The Light-Catching House II challenges the traditional row house typology of urban houses along narrow alleys in southern Taiwan. In order to protect the privacy of private spaces, these traditional houses limit window openings as much as possible, and at the same time, limit the connection between the interior and the exterior environment. The Light-Catching House II proposes a new solution that reunites the interior with the exterior, family life with the natural environment, and connects families with their neighbors in the community.


The semi-natural balcony of The Light-Catching House II is able to make full use of its special form. Layers and layers of balconies collect rainwater from the roof, third floor balcony, and second floor balcony, and recycle it to irrigate the flower beds and trees on the ground, and finally flow into the earth to complete the rainwater cycle. The driveway and parking space are paved with permeable grass tiles, which can absorb moisture and cool down the public space.

This award celebrates the design process and product of planning, designing and constructing form, space and ambience that reflect functional, technical, social, and aesthetic considerations. Consideration given for material selection, technology, light and shadow.
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