When we look up, we see a lot of incredible things we would otherwise have missed. That this is true in cities is widely accepted; many people live for years, decades even, in the same place without ever fully noticing some of the most striking examples of architecture on offer there. In urban life we spend most of our time trapped in our own bubble, seeing only what we need to see. In cities like Hong Kong, where most people live at great heights, this is less true than in predominately low-rise cities; it's possible to get a good overview of the cityscape simply by looking out the window. But all the same, it's all too easy to miss those all-important, style-defining details that we would see standing directly beneath a building and looking up at it.
But looking up is an activity that can offer us many wonderful experiences in the countryside too. There may not be any skyscrapers to hold our gaze, but there's plenty of other things to keep us entertained. The sky itself is a marvel that's too often taken for granted, and one that deserves to be looked at properly, and often. Add to that glorious backdrop migrating birds, aeroplanes heading for unknown destinations, and the patterns created by branches criss-crossing against one another, and you begin to realise exactly how much is going on above our heads each day.
The Leaning House, by Praud, is a house that itself appears to be paying close attention to the sky, and in so doing encourages those around it to do the same. What does a sky-watching house look like, you may ask? Exactly like this…
When any building is truly unique, it often means there are only a limited number of settings in which it's going to work. Such is the case with the Leaning House. It's hard to imagine how this would fit into a city, dwarfed by tall buildings, its particular beauty diminished by roads and cars and surrounding cement structures. Here, there are no distractions, and the house can be viewed in all its glory.
It's the slope of the main part of the house that causes this building to appear so interested in the overhead world. As this photo shows, however, that slope is certainly not the only unconventional aspect to look at here. The mismatched placement and shape of the windows and the grey covering of the walls (also used on the roof) are among its many unusual features.
The angle of the building makes is appear reminiscent of a telescope, tilted up to see the sky.
The balcony along the front of the house seems like it should be on a slope, but of course it isn't. This adds a strange, slightly confusing appearance to the front of the house, of the kind that might need a double take the first time you see it.
Inside, the slanted edge of the ceiling is the only hint of the unusual appearance of the building's exterior.
The tilted overhang of the house's upper part provides a shade for the patio space below.
In the evening light, the building looks a lot like a spaceship frozen in the midst of takeoff. The strips of light shining from the narrow windows only serve to enhance this impression.
This shot gives a better idea of how the interior of the building works. Crucially, the upper and lower floors are all one space, meaning that even though those slit-like windows are too small to light the entire space by themselves, light can also flow through the entire house from the glass-fronted balcony area.