Rainy/Sunny | MOUNT FUJI ARCHITECTS STUDIO
Words by mooponto Staff
May 10, 2012
The site is there in a residential area in Tokyo, dense with low-rise buildings, located a little bit west to the center of the Kanto plain. The climate there is about to change from a warm humid climate to a rainforest climate in near future.
I’m not making a “house” this time. It should be a lasting “terrain” that induces “habitation”. My goal is to shape the terrain up to a freshly designed “residence” with no preestablished harmony sensed.
If I want a landscape with high habitability, the architecture should go beyond some abstract morphology. After all, a terrain is created as a consequence of long time conversation held between physical substances such as rocks and soils and the unique climate of the area. Finding the best balance between materials and climate and incarnate that in the form of architecture… This is a challenge to take elements that modern architecture has long been ignored – climate, materials, and many problems posed by aging – into design factor once again and shift them to architectural blessings.
The project started with questing the best structure and materials to realize “a terrain that lasts forever”.
One existing way to match the structure and finished shape is to use bare reinforced concrete as walls. But it’s of questionable value when it comes to durability. Rain washes alkali away from the wall surface and makes it extremely short-lived. Shuttering of coated plywood board makes a smooth surface that looks great on the day of completion, however, weather-beaten, it will look sad and old within a few years. So I invented a new construction system. A bare reinforced concrete wall with creasing (h=18 mm) every 500 mm apart would keep alkali in and stain off. Larch plywood is used as a mold instead of coated plywood in order to transfer wood grain to the surface of the wall to make it textured. That way, aged deterioration turns into something of aesthetic value, just like wrinkles of well-used jeans.
The block of reinforced concrete thus made is placed on the site at an angle to separate the exterior into two spaces: to the north, the “front garden” on the road, used as parking. To the south, the “private garden” surrounded by the main building and neighboring houses where the wind is gentle and the sun shines warmly. The private garden offers privacy and security and makes it possible for the architecture to have a large window that views a sunny garden and a “vault of heaven”. The architecture geometry is not a conventional rectangular. Its unique shape brings about “darkness” to the corners everywhere, provides it with the appearance of depth, and liberates the air of the rooms.
Residents enjoy life under boundless sky indoors. On sunny days, the unevenness of the exterior walls cast strong shadows. On cloudy days, the architecture sucks in humidity and turns into a dark crag. And on rainy days, it wears lace of raindrop. It transforms itself according to the weather.
Here, a modern architecture that lives in harmony with climate is born.