LocationInagawa, Kawabe District, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan
Co-ArchitectAkira Hanjo from Atelier Fish
Client ∕ DeveloperBoenfukyukai Foundation
Structural EngineerEisuke Mitsuda Structural Planning Laboratory
Quantity SurvayorGEN Architectural Management
ConstructionIchiyoshi Kougyou Co.,Ltd.
MaterialsExterior \ Charred cedar + Bengala (Iron Oxide) painted cedar Interior\ Structural Plywood painted white
Text description provided by the architects. The warehouse of Inagawa Reien will provide functional support to the administrative wing and chapel designed by David Chipperfield Architects and scheduled for completion in 2017. Although visitors will have no reason to enter the warehouse at all, its placement at the entrance to the cemetery grounds means that visitors will see this building first. Since all visitors will arrive by automobile, a concept that could contribute to people’s periodic visits to their family graves was considered for those brief moments spent passing by the warehouse.
The warehouse serves as the maintenance center for the entire property of the cemetery that extends to 150,000 square meters, and provides a car park, refrigeration unit for flowers, workshop space, and storage. The parking has clearance for the florist’s 2-ton truck that delivers cut flowers.
Entry to the workshop is through a set of large sliding doors that can be fully opened, and has a considered arrangement with respect to the car park and refrigerator. When a large work area is required, drawing the sliding doors of the workshop fully open results in a single integrated space with the car park.
The warehouse has arranged its contents, so that frequently used items are respectively closer to the workshop entrance. Shelves and sink face the work tables, and provide a counter for creating offering sets, and tools to make the offerings. Portable altars and water pails are placed immediately behind. The second row arranges equipment like sprayers and lawn mowers, and in the back, stoves and anti-freezing agent that are seasonally limited in usage. For a durable finish structural plywood was used for the ceiling and walls, and bare concrete for the floor. These materials were also choices in regard to design concept, to leave their irregularity and texture exposed and available to eventually blend with the numerous items filling the warehouse.
The warehouse site occupies a corner of a ‘T’ intersection: From Prefectural Route 12, visitors to the cemetery turn into the grounds, and the driveway extends to the administrative wing to be located at the end. In order to save the initial high emotion of arrival for the administrative wing by David Chipperfield Architects, the warehouse visible at the point of entry is made in a form and with materials like the surrounding traditional farmhouses, blending discreetly into the landscape. Many nearby farmhouses have smoked-cedar siding and sloped, tiled roofing. The warehouse, therefore, also donned smoked cedar siding and a sloped roof for the arriving roadside view.
The departing view, however, cuts a completely different figure for the building. As the final landmark of the visit, the exterior walls from this vantage are finished with bengala red pigment (iron oxide) to invoke the image of a torii (distinctive gate to Japanese Shinto shrine) and provide a boundary between the spiritual and secular worlds. For those visitors who have paid their respects at the family grave, the motif offers passage from the emotions experienced at a cemetery to a return home to daily life via religious boundary.
The designed selection of smoked cedar siding and bengala red are assertive in their change over time. Bengala is paint used in Japan for centuries with insect- and decay-proofing qualities. Its usage in shrines and temples relates to a belief in its harm-protecting charm.
Vertically lapped wall sections enable the clean transition between smoked cedar and bengala walls according to the arrival and departure views. The sections appear like a saw-toothed layout in the plan view. The bengala-painted wall sections are gapped and fitted with red glass to draw faint red-colored light inward from the north side.
The wall sections of the car park for the florist’s truck are also vertically lapped to obscure the parking and workspace in back and to provide a walkway, ventilation, and natural lighting.
The east-west diagonal forms the ridge of the four-cornered roof, which slopes at two different angles. The roof height at the southeast is held down to respect neighboring housing along the prefectural route, so the slope is steep. The car-park side secures the height required for the truck, with a gentle roof slope to keep the building height down. The steep-sloped roof on the south side forms a steep ceiling, which reflects light entering from openings on the south side and transfers the natural light throughout. The gentle slope on the north side is dyed red from the light entering the red window slits. The two natural light colors combine to provide a touch of brilliance to the otherwise plain warehouse interior for those working inside all day.