Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mountains & Opening

By Savitha Hira

When the architect’s vision philosophizes with the client’s desires, it gives wings to a combined imagination, to be actualized and celebrated.

Located in an exclusive residential district of Takarazuka city in Japan, and commanding an alluring view of the Osaka Plain, is a home built on the slope of a hill at an elevation of 330 meters.

Home cum design office to a Japanese sneaker brand, the structure embodies two distinct ideologies:  to be underground in the warmth of the earth; and, to fly like a bird.

The architects, Anna Nakamura and Taiyo Jinno of Eastern Design Office, Japan, explain, “We dreamed of a mountain, whose slope was scraped away.  The lost mountain is designed into this architecture.”

Almost surrealist in representation, they visualized two entities: the house on the lower floor, on the flattened plain, scooped out between two mounds of the mountain; its foundation supported on a bedrock layer 1.5 meters beneath the ground surface, invisible to the outside world. With the land originally slanted at an angle of 18 degrees, the mounds were built to let the slope undulate. The second entity – the design room or office is designed to float on these undulations.

An 18 meter-long terrace facilitates the panoramic view of the sea and mountains 60 kilometres away.  Rows of other houses that line the area are completely out of sight. You get the feeling that your body is floating, slightly, as if on the deck of a ship.

An L-shaped plan has one edge protruding acutely from the slope. This houses an opening that seemingly swallows the outside. Straight eaves run amidst curvilinear forms of the topography, projecting powerfully, not to be beaten by the inherent force of the mountainous landscape. They are thin, thick, short, long and carved. “This is the way we have arranged this architecture and its openings. The dream of this architecture is like a voyage setting out,” say the architects.

The plan for this slope shapes the mountain structurally, with the goal to let people feel the uninterrupted flow of the curves that define the mountain; to allow them to have a sense of closeness to the wave-like mountain.  “A small change to the curve will lead to a loss of balance, affecting the way openings should be designed; and the mountain, and the entire architecture will also have to be change its form,” informs Anna.  

Correspondingly, the upper and lower floors are in synch. Nestled amidst the swelling contours of the mountain, the house appears like a long-distance ship riding high waves; or perhaps, a dragon?
As Anna and Taiyo express:
It is a cave and also a nautical form.
It is flying away, yet it is anchored.
It is drifting, yet it is homely.
It is sky, and it is Earth. It is far, yet it is near.


  1. The architecture in Mountains & Opening: Beau Home!

    As for enhancing building on a mountainous slope tho, this depends on:
    1. How steep the slope?
    2. How long the slope?
    3. How the site will be entered? From the top (as a plain above)? From the base? From the side?
    4. The view beyond.
    Anything less is precipitous judgement.
    Posted by Robert Butler on linkedin Group: Residential Renovation Design Group

  2. Interesting concept, but the premise seems lost in the execution. Rendering the totality in stark white diminishes the balance of figure/ground.
    Posted by Mike Burrows on linkedin Group: Residential Renovation Design Group.

  3. This design is spectacular!Youu certainly know how
    to keep a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I
    was almost moved too start my own blog (well, almost...HaHa!) Wonderful job.

    I really loved what you had to say, annd more than that, how you presented
    it. Too cool!


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