ArchitectsAE5 partners / Hidenari Arai, Stefano Tozzi
From the architect. Along a series of lushly green mountains, narrow rice field terraces are divided by a mountain stream. Surrounded by this complicated yet beautiful abundant nature, a settlement can be seen in Kashiwano-machi, a town in Kaga city, Ishikawa, Japan. The project site was established in an gap along by a national road running the edge of the city. How should the building be designed to fill the space in a town that was slowly built up over a long period of time by people and nature?
The foundational concept of the plan should proceed from the climate, the culture, and the historical context, while still expressing modernity. It was thought that this approach may be necessary and most natural for the residents and town people.
A “Kura” (Japanese warehouse) is a feature of the typology of the town. It is a secondary house that can be seen anywhere, since every house in the town has a Kura. With small, aesthetic proportions, it fills the space and distance between houses and it helps block the prying eyes of neighbors.
It can be said that the planning site complies with the traditional construction style of the town: a house like a Kura with a few open doors is built between a busy national road and the head house in which the client family lives. Additionally, the volume of a Kura suits the current “a house for a woman living alone” theme. While moving forward with the plan, the typological aspect of the Kura was used within the constraints of the building's site and context to specialize the process.
The process begin like this: a decision was made using a volume study that maintained the proportions of the dialogue between the building plan and the surrounding environment. Then, between the main house and the planned building, a chevron shaped courtyard was made way for, creating a complete assembly whose plan is known as Kunoji.
Between the Kunoji and the main house the space became a welcoming courtyard and, at the same time, the north-western side of the Kunoji produced a small space that answered the client’s request of having a private garden. Via this process an architectural shape that acts as a part of the town was derived.
Text provided by AE5 partners