No other residential architect Design Awards entry in recent memory has divided a judging panel as emphatically as did Villa Metamorphosis. Opinions ranged from “wacky and eccentric” to arch and knowing.” But the dispute yielded one point of agreement: While it might not merit an award, this entry deserves to be seen.
Deliberately Kafkaesque in both name and intent, the project represents Poughkeepsie, N.Y. and Tokyo–based designer Ben Ryuki Miyagi’s vision of a modest, nondescript dwelling “transformed into a black, mysterious house with grotesque, yet poetic, features.” Miyagi flattened the shed roof of the Saugerties, N.Y., ranch house, adding a saw-tooth, polycarbonate-lined “light collector” at one end and a trio of half-domed, asphalt-clad towers at the other. In between, flat black walls are punctuated with fixed glazing in openings whose shapes undermine the viewer’s schema of “window.” The ungainliness of the forms is intentional; the crudity of their execution may or may not be.
The project’s strongest supporter called the unlikely result “both provocative and evocative. It’s outside of any existing taste culture.” While other judges remained decidedly unmoved, “some of us were delighted to see this.”