Auto Repair Shop in Niigata

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Niigata, Japan
Koichi Torimura | Future-scape Architects

This auto repair shop located in Niigata, a large Japanese city, provides space where clients can repair their own cars in addition to standard services. Most buildings in the suburbs of Niigata are characterized either by strong colors and fanciful forms, or monotonous designs in grey or beige. With this project, we tried to create an interesting design without getting caught up in the local competition for “most fanciful building.”

We realized this goal by reversing the design methodology of typical suburban architecture. By incorporating a number of small differences, we created an overall atmosphere that is somewhat different from the surrounding architecture.

The shape of the box was based on the minimum size requirements of the building codes for auto repair shops. We also felt the functional form fit well with its suburban surroundings.

Inversion of the exterior
Unlike in typical buildings, in this shop,window size and frame type were designed in reference to the exterior scene onto which the windows face. For instance, the scale of the window facing the main road is large, to match the cars speeding by outside, while the windows facing the car wash are smaller, to match the scale of customers walking past on foot. The four different facades meet at the corners of the building.

Inversion of the interior
In typical suburban architecture, the interior is finished in monotonous colors such as white or beige. In contrast, this repair shop uses strong interior colors. The color changes from orange to light blue at the glass screen in the center of the building. Each time customers or employees pass this transition point, they will be reminded of the reversal of typical design principals.

Connection of the inversions
The shop is managed by a small staff. The walls open radially from the lounge to the outdoor coin wash area, allowing the staff to easily monitor both areas from the lounge. Between the radiating walls is a waiting area. Both sides of the walls are finished in mirrors , which reflect the part of the coin wash space that would otherwise be invisible from the lounge.

The real and virtual images of the exterior come together in the mirrored waiting area, making this a pivotal part of the building.

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