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- Niigata, Japan
Located in Urayama, Nishi ward, Niigata City, the site is located atop a sand dune hill formed by the Sea of Japan. The site area is 200 msq; a size which makes the land too small to divide and a little too large to sell alone. The main road in front of the site, has been constructed by contributing private land from each plot. At the back of the site, a narrow lane runs through the plot and leads to a large local park.
With this site, our design direction was to maximize the utility of the open space mandated by the regulation and make it viable public space. With only 50% building coverage rate, we sought to give function to the this empty public area.
In essence, we constructed two small houses connected with an in between space that is public. We conceptualized the building as a home of the town-a connection between the front road and the back path. In one building, we designed a large flexible LDK space with less strict functions and in the other building, we arranged relatively small rooms with clear functions, such as kid’s room, work space and Japanese style room. When the residents move back and forth between these two buildings, or go up and down the stairs, they travel through this in between space and in a sense, through the town. The house thereby chooses to open life more physically to the town and seeks to bring the town more closer to it, than just a building constructed in a town. The site is an extension of the town and seeps into the everyday life of the residents. As the residents move around the house, they bear witness to town events and seasonal changes, making the house more in tune with its environment.
This makes walking into town and walking inside the house a continuous, smooth and seamless activity.
The building as experienced by the public:
Someone slowly climbs up the sand dune hill, stops atop it to rest at this place, then slips off to the park using the back lane. Or someone ascends to the observation deck and take rest there, whilst looking back at the slope that they have just climbed and the beach that they were just at.
This experience of mixing the lives of the residents and the passerby; the surprise of encountering people as they live their lives and incidentally coinciding with yours, is a once in a lifetime experience. Such an experience is made possible by extending the family’s private residence and life into the middle of someone else’s life, combining the hobbies and atmosphere of the resident’s lives. Thus the building becomes part of the public architecture of the town.
This a proposal that finds a new way of opening up the land inherited by each house from the village to the townscape it now resides in.