5 Under 40 2018 Award Winner Jeremy Roc JihText by Erin Marvin
Much like the artists James Turrell and Robert Irwin, in whose work he finds inspiration, architect Jeremy Roc Jih strives to “defamiliarize things that would otherwise be familiar,” whether he’s testing the limits of plasticity in concrete or playing with the light-transmission qualities of polypropylene.
Still, function always comes first: a contemporary roof deck surface of sapele wood that bends and flows and connects with only friction-fit Japanese wood joints does so to conform with programmatic needs and historic district constraints. A trefoil floor plan wrapped in floor-to-ceiling glass nearly eliminates boundaries between exterior and interior spaces, but also allows for complete wheelchair accessibility. A double-height spiral staircase of white oak, brass, and polished concrete differentiates a loft’s wide-open space rather than divides it, connecting multiple floors and adding interest from every vantage point.
After years spent crisscrossing various cities in Asia, Europe, and North America, Jih has managed to harness his own experiences in unfamiliar contexts and present them dynamically through his architecture. “There is something in me that always feels like it doesn’t quite belong, so there is always something in my design that is trying to destabilize or question a material and present it in a new way,” he says.
Already boasting a résumé that would rival architects twice his age, Jih founded his one-man interdisciplinary firm, J. Roc Design, in 2015. With work that spans from Boston to Beijing, his primary interest is in discovering new processes and inventing new things by bringing technology and new digital tools to bear on traditional concerns and desires about craft and material.
We can’t wait to see what he creates next.
New England Home’s 5 Under 40 awards celebrate our region’s finest emerging talent in residential design. The honorees—all of whom are under the age of forty—were nominated by their peers and then selected by a committee of local design leaders.
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