Architects: Kengo Kuma & Associates
Location: 5180 Azayumachi, Shimonoseki City, Yamaguchi, Japan
Client: City of Shimonoseki
Total floor area: 1,242.85 sqm
Structural engineering: Sato Jun Structural Engineers
Utilities, equipment: P.T.Morimura & Associates, LTD.
Construction: Kosei Kensetsu Co., Ltd.
Design period: 2006.12-2007.05
Construction period: 2008.04-2009.11
Photographs: Mitsumasa Fujitsuka
I Kawatana is a historic hot springs town from the Edo period. In recent years, however, the town is losing its liveliness for many different causes combined – decline in the number of visitors, closure of some uninherited inns or weak public transport. Under this circumstance, we proposed a building like a cave that organically follows the ground it stands and the mountain range behind the town, rather than simply maintaining the history and tradition of the town.
The building has three functions – as the hall to put on public events and symposia, the folk museum to display Japanese culture and lifestyle, and the tourist information center. Rather than dividing the space into three according its role, we planned it as a single connected place to accommodate various activities going on at the same time. Entrances are in three locations – at the intersection, middle of the approach to the shrine and the event square leading up to the hill at the back, and people can come in and out freely from any of these three. Thus the center is intended to work as a meeting point for all kinds of people there – local residents, day trippers, long-stay guests to the hot springs, visitors to the event, museum or the shrine – who would have missed each other in the past.