The eastern part of Hiroshima city used to be a quiet rural area with broad expanses of fields and cultivated land, but it has since rapidly transformed into a residential area thanks to the development of road and highway networks. The site for this project, which underwent the same transformation in character, consists of several plots of agricultural land in a stepped formation characterized by uneven contours, splits and fragments, as well as a difference in elevation from the road in front.
Due to the constant stream of customers that visit the site on a daily basis, the clients requested a design that would be able to accommodate a diversity of situations and gatherings both public and private, formal and casual. However, they also wanted spaces that would cater to private time spent alone – individual rooms for each member of the family, an audio equipment room, spaces for hobbies and personal interests (a car, piano and tea ceremony gatherings) – as well as a functionality that would enable daily chores to be carried out efficiently.
We planned the building in a way that would allow functionality to coexist with spatial diversity - in short, a simple configuration and structure that avoids being monotonous, while enabling the architecture to take on some of the characteristics of the site in order to create a rich, varied and expressive space. In this way, we were able to tap the diverse impressions created by several of the elements that the site is endowed with – differences in ground level, orientation and scenery – and apply them to the space in an advantageous manner. In particular, we were able to redeploy the undulations in the ground as a starting condition for developing a “place”: enlarging it, switching it around, or joining it loosely to other elements, all the while respecting the natural features of the site. By negotiating variations in spatial volume, views of the surrounding terrain, light, textures of the building materials and so on through the process of “shifting” from one place to another, a sense of comfort and release for both mind and body was achieved.
We oriented the building to the north and devised an L-shaped layout that opened onto the south, ensuring both abundant light and a measure of privacy from the coming and going of people. In addition, a reciprocal sense of distance that is by turns intimate and detached was created, adding a dramatic quality to the arrangement of the rooms. The elevated west wing, which enjoys a wide view, plentiful sunlight and feeling of openness, was turned into a social space for gatherings with family and close friends. The east wing, whose line of sight has been judiciously cut off thanks to the relative elevation of the surrounding ground, has an appealingly relaxed atmosphere that made it ideal as a “quiet zone”, which includes both a recuperative space for the owner to escape the rigors of his exhausting work commitments, as well as a formal tea ceremony room for important occasions. Because the space in the L-shaped corner of the building is tucked away, we were able to use it in an extremely efficient manner: in addition to the concentrated placement of utilities, the formation of lines of flow and circulation at the back of the building through the openings and closings created by the various architectural fittings could be measured, thereby transforming this space into a sort of organic backyard.
The foyer that connects the west and east wings is a large space with a ceiling measuring more than 6 meters high. It is continuous with the courtyard and its water feature, and also joins to the roof terrace. This space envelops the light and shadow that shifts and changes with the time of day and the moiré patterns created by the ripples on the water surface, adding a variety of rich textures and colors to everyday life. The slope that supports this generous, subtly detailed space functions as a fluent link between places, set against the panoramic mountain range in the background.