Slit Court by Eastern Design office

published in: Architecture By Marcia Argyriades, 15 September 2009

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photo © Kouichi Torimura

Location:  Kyoto // JAPAN
Type of Project: 5 story Residential Complex
Project Architects: EASTERN design office /// Anna Nakamura and Taiyo Jinno
Total floor area:  992.94 square meters
Site area: 440.12 square meters

Year of Construction: 2009

We’ve seen their work on Yatzer before with a presentation of their House in Crest in Kyoto // JAPAN.  Architects Anna Nakamura and Taiyo Jinno of Japanese Eastern design office just know the way to amaze us!  Their distinctive architecture which plays with light and brings light into the house in the most spectacular way is surely a characteristic of their stunning architectural designs.  

photo © Kouichi Torimura

Slit Court – a hidden potentiality of an inner court ” _09.07.24 // Eastern Design Office

 
The complex is located at Sumizome, Fushimi in Kyoto // Japan.  Sumizome is a small town with distinguished history, and situated south of Tofukuji temple.
 
The importance of the architecture of this five story residential complex lies in the inner court.  The complex occupies two tenants in the front and back side of the first floor.  From the second to the fourth floor there are four residential units, and another two units on the fifth floor.
 
In Japan due to the lack of space, the site is generally small and narrow, and faces a narrow street.  Even in this historic town, the narrow street has become a main street as a route of transportation, where the intimacy of the neighbors is lost and transformed into the fast moving and ever-changing eastern world.  With this in mind Eastern Design Office set as a goal to create architecture with an inner living space to protect what they believe matters most in life.  With an aim to protect the sky, the land, the light and above all the people who reside within this building Eastern designed Slitcourt.

photo © Kouichi Torimura

Eastern Design made architecture with an inner court. This inner court redefines how the form of “people, town and path” should be in Kyoto.
The inner court or garden seems as if one is entering the territory of a modern temple. Eastern designed a residential complex with vertical stacked collective houses on a narrow lot and made place beyond such senses by placing a gaping void right in the center of the building.  The inner court isn’t just any void, but has a symbolic meaning as described above.
 
The inner court acts as a device where the “hidden” void is brighter than the main, but narrow street.  It balances on a thin line where architecture plays with the elements of light and the darkness.  Whereas, whatever is structurally inside (the void), is practically outside for the occupants of this complex.   The design is striking, simplistic ’solid and void’ which utilizes one of the best renewable resources which is no other than the sun.

photo © Kouichi Torimura

The form of the inner court is cylindrical with a height of 15 meters on a space of 7 x 5.5 m or 38.5 square meters.  By creating the void at the recessed place from the main street, the sky, the ground and the light are framed.  Eleven curved slits (which act as narrow windows) are winding on the surface of four concrete walls. The movement of the windows which raises upwards in spiral curves becomes a dream of a curve, revealing to each resident another dream which is no other than his room.  The view blocked by the slim windows will softly protect the subtle quietness inside it.  Two backrooms enclose the inner court as two L-shaped rooms.   The high wall is cut aslant according to the sun’s angle of winter solstice, the day when the sun is at the lowest. Ample of natural lighting reaches into the rooms even in midwinter, yet there is no sense of blocking the sky.

photo © Kouichi Torimura

A path that passes under cherry trees. //   To enter, we pass under the cherry tree which is carved on the exterior concrete wall.  This cherry tree is a pale charcoal cherry named Sumizomezakura.  The legend inherited here over 1200 years says that this type of cherry tree bears pale charcoal colored cherry blossoms when singing a song mourning a dead people.  The path passing under the cherry tree leads to another world. When passing through the tunnel, you will suddenly find the inner court.

photo © Kouichi Torimura

photo © Kouichi Torimura

photo © Kouichi Torimura

photo © Kouichi Torimura

 © EASTERN DESIGN OFFICE

 © EASTERN DESIGN OFFICE

 © EASTERN DESIGN OFFICE

 © EASTERN DESIGN OFFICE

Zoom //  © EASTERN DESIGN OFFICE

sources:

Eastern Design Office

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EASTERN Design Office

About EASTERN Design Office

EASTERN Design Office of Anna Nakamura and Taiyo Jinno is a collaborative architectural and design firm in Kyoto, Japan.   The firm was founded in 2003, and ever since they have received various prizes in International competitions.  Their projects range but are not limited to urban planning, commercial and residential architectural design.    The architects of EASTERN possess a remarkable sense of scale.   “Their architectural designs develop a high level of freedom in them on the basis of thorough understanding of this principle.  The architects of EASTERN artfully enjoy the plastic freedom that comes with the scale of residential buildings. It is not that they simply discard unnecessary structure, but rather, on the many disadvantageous sites often seen in Japanese cities, they assert the existence of architecture by first establishing the external reinforced concrete wall.  They then draw what may be observed as random free curves on the wall surface.  If you design the space between a pair of adjacent curves as negative, you obtain an aperture, but if you consider it as positive, it becomes a solid component member.  The two architects of EASTERN will utilize their extraordinary plastic sensibility grounded in Japanese tradition to construct an original and distinguished world of architecture while maintaining their certain sense of scale.”

[official website]
  • friend
    seb | 2009-09-16 13:06:45

    great. I love it.

  • friend
    Sanjeev Sabharwal | 2011-03-07 13:50:00

    There is sheer poetry in this design, both as sculpture and concept. The concept of the outer concrete cherry tree and the inner real one, with the transition of exit from the outer street into the tranquil sculpted court is deceptively simple. The play of form and light is wonderful! An inspired Masterpiece!

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