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Defying Gravity


THE cantilevered building is architecturally impressive.  A horizontal beam or other building element projects from the structure, seemingly with no support. Built to cater for various needs such as residential, office or even as an institution of higher learning, cantilevered buildings have cemented their place in building design.

While careful calculations must be made to ensure safety, cantilevered structures suspend one’s notion of how things should be and encourage one to go out on a limb.

Le49 in Kamakurayama, Kamakura City, Kanagawa, Japan

This two-level home, located on Mount Kamakura in the Kanagawa Prefecture, is about 50km southwest of Tokyo. Completed in December 2011, Le49 was designed by Satoshi Kurosaki of Apollo Architects & Associates and offers a triangular courtyard with an upper level that looks out towards Sagami Bay. The cantilevered portion of the upper level is part of the living and dining area and forms the balcony of the unit.

The occupants of the house are a married couple from Tokyo. They decided to relocate after falling in love with the view and the lush greenery, according to the architecture firm. The couple lived in a high-rise condominium in downtown Tokyo before they decided to make the move.

The design of the house provides privacy on the lower level, which houses a private work studio. The upper level has a more open and spacious feel, thanks to the design in which all storage spaces, sinks and other amenities are incorporated into the walls.

It also features a pentagonal ceiling made of steel and wooden beams. To maximise the view, the windows were measured to frame the panoramic view of the forest and ocean.

Academy of Music, Word and Dance in Dilbeek

Academy of Music, Word and Dance in Dilbeek

Academy of Music, Word and Dance in Dilbeek, Belgium

Situated in the Flemish-speaking part of Belgium, the Academy of Music, Word and Dance has a cantilevered portion that overlooks the entrance of the building. Inside, this part of the building contains the seating area for the main auditorium. The remaining spaces contain classrooms, dance studios and music rooms. The academy was officially opened on Sept 8, 2012.

The cantilevered overhang is also  a space where people can mingle. It isn’t surprising that during rainy weekends, skateboarders are seen practising their skills. Also, you can see people milling about daily. Every summer, an open air cinema operates there.

Designed by Spanish architect Carlos Arroyo of Carlos Arroyo Architects and developed and engineered by CEPI (Carlos Arroyo Architects + ELD Partnership + Provoost + Ingenium), the building is designed to harmonise with its surroundings.

One side of the structure faces the Westrand cultural centre, another side faces a forest reserve and a third faces a residential enclave. The design also pays homage to noted architect Alfons Hoppenbrouwers, who died in 2001, and, incidentally, designed the Westrand cultural centre. He was known for his penchant for colour, and it resulted in the academy incorporating that element in the design.

So, looking directly at the side facing the residential enclave, you will see an assortment of colourful stripes. If you were to come towards the building from the cantilevered side, you would see images of trees and if you come from the opposite direction, there will be a myriad of blue lines in various hues.

Moreover, Arroyo designed the roof of the structure to mirror the gabled design of the nearby houses. The side facing the forest reserve features grey panels.

UNASUR General Secretary Headquarters in Quito

UNASUR General Secretary Headquarters in Quito

UNASUR General Secretary Headquarters in Quito, Ecuador

Designed by Diego Guayasamin Arquitectos, the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) General Secretary Headquarters, has two cantilevered sections. Competed in 2014, the building’s design set out to surprise and is a metaphor for freedom. It certainly does that with its pillarless sections that “hover” several metres from the ground. The use of glass conveys the message of social and political transparency. To accentuate the already unusual design, there is a body of water below, where the reflection seems to give the protruding sections a suspended effect.

La Maison du Savoir at the University of Luxembourg

La Maison du Savoir at the University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg

La Maison du Savoir or House of Knowledge is the focal point of the new University of Luxembourg. Located at Avenue de I’Universite, Esch-sur-Alzette, the building has two cantilevered sections at either end.

The building was designed by baumschlager eberle in association with local architect firm Christian Bauer & Associés Architectes. The cantilevered sections contain the classrooms, rooms for the professors as well as lecture theatres. The administrative offices are in the tower. There are also catering services in the building.

The site of La Maison du Savoir used to be home to a steel plant and as a homage to its past, the tower block matches the dimensions of the lant’s steel furnaces.

The architect opted for a double-shell façade for the building. The internal layer forms its climatic barrier, while the outer layer, which envelops the building with a steel honeycomb structure, helps to regulate the amount of light entering the building.

The Balancing Barn in Suffolk

The Balancing Barn in Suffolk, the UK

The Balancing Barn in Suffolk, the UK

Located by a small lake in the English countryside is a holiday house called The Balancing Barn and it certainly lives up to its name. At least half of the 30m long house, designed by MVRDV from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, is cantilevered over a slope.

The exterior walls are covered with a reflective sheeting to reflect the surrounding environment. MVRDV highlights that the section of the house attached to terra firma is constructed with heavier materials than the cantilevered section. Moreover, the structure is balanced on a central concrete core.

On entering the building, one is greeted by the kitchen and a large dining room. As you move past this section, you will encounter four en suite bedrooms that can comfortably accommodate two occupants each.

Just before the cantilevered portion, there is a stairway to the bottom of the slope. A swing is attached to the end of the structure, ready for children and the young at heart to use.

The cantilevered space above the slope is occupied by the living room. Big windows surround the walls, ceiling and floor, which dismisses any illusion one is not sitting over empty space and provides a connection with nature.