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photo: Kaori Ichikawa
This building is situated in a residential neighbourhood in the inner city of Oita, 1,200km southwest of Tokyo. The client, an art teacher of junior high school, asked for a space that would allow him to live with a whole collection of his own works including those from his childhood.
The client wanted a one-third of the area to be allocated to a living space, and the rest of the area to a gallery space that can be open to public at times. Thus, a three-story building was chosen to accommodate the programme, allowing separation between private and public, as well as maximizing spatial flexibility.
Securing the privacy of the house seemed possible by simply enclosing by three facades against traffics and the adjacent sites. In addition, building in a box-frame construction seemed practical in terms of sound insulation and vibration-proof, as well as offering the client a maximum area of display walls.
However, a simple solid three-story cube will raise problems of producing an impact to its neighbourhood by its massive volume, of adding a sense of monotony to its interior space, of making it difficult to leave the display walls wide open because of the need for fenestration to let natural air and light in.
The solution is to stack each story with slippage of 60cm each, in a manner that the building sets back. This gives not only an advantage of moderating the mass of the building, but provides ventilation and light through the overlapping areas. In this way, the building becomes functionally well distinctive and optimized: the nearly full-glazed northern fade looking onto the backyard serves as a picture window, while the rest of the walls are devoted to the display, the floor hatches act as ventilators, and the skylights bring in natural light.
These small slippages of the layers have led to the concept of bringing small differences into each part of the building. Here, one is given choices in forming his own impression. Instead of producing a unified impression, these differences themselves will be incorporated into the viewer's spatial experience; such as, varied layout of the cores that produces different scenes of the surrounding landscape to each floor, roughly textured concrete walls leaving imprints of the strips of formwork, small difference in ceiling height between the floors, and the plastered walls upon which a closer look reveals touch of trowels.
texts by Takao Shiotsuka; translated into English by Jun Doi
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