Now that Christmas is over, I felt like unwrapping something warm ... like A’tolan House.
A’tolan is a word from the indigenous people along the east coast of Taiwan and it means “a place with many rocks.” It could also mean “piling of rocks”, “building wall with rocks”, or “a house made out of rocks.”
Anyway you mean it, it’s A’tolan house.
The house sits on the eastern seaboard of Taiwan in a sliver of a plot of land with some 200 feet of beachfront property. The idea behind the house was to use the traditional native architectural technique of A’tolan with rocks excavated from the site being used to build the east-west walls that rise up three levels, similar to rice patty terraces. The first, or top, level is the driveway and entrance; the second level is the main living areas, with the bottom level being the gardens and the pool.
The house keeps a low profile along the contour of the coastline, following the bending of the shoreline and opening itself to the sea. The steel frame is clad with native rocks and the roof over the middle level is a living roof with various herbs. A wide stone stairway descends from that ‘plateau’ to the open-air foyer of the main house.
Since the home is surrounded by Mother Nature the architects chose a noninvasive design approach to satisfy only the basic needs for shelter and food preparation needs. Hence, the interior consists only of cooking areas and sleeping quarters with the spaces defined by accordion glass doors.
There is a covered shower and an outdoor bathtub just outside the sleeping areas; an al fresco dining room with a long table sits beside the foyer, and the multi-purpose area in front of the home can be a yoga platform or a star-gazing theater.
It’s old things, and natural things, and new ideas and freedom ... it’s peaceful.