Oct 1, 2008

'Sticks & Stones', MARK #16 Oct/Nov 2008

Mark Magazine
Publisher:Frame PublishersAmsterdam
ISSN: 1574-6453

With a small house in Tokyo, Katsuya Fukushima and Hiroko Tominaga challenge the idea of the ‘traditional Japanese home’ while still adhering to tradition.

In designing his first two private residences in Tokyo, Katsuya Fukushima ‘protected’ the inhabitants from the chaos of the city by employing a series of folding screens. a great solution if the site needs that type of protection. But what if it doesn’t? Do you invite the city in? That’s exactly what Fukushima has done in his latest project, Column and Slab. The ground floor of the house–the ‘doma’, or ‘earthen floor room’–makes the dwelling part of the urban fabric, ushering in not only the city but also the people who live in the house.

On such a small site, the desire to utilize all available space was accomplished through the use of four sets of columns, which form the basic structure of the building. Exterior walls extending beyond this structural grid incorporate the columns into the interior and create two 0.93-m-wide ‘aisles’ on each side of the house, one of which accommodates the building’s only staircase and one which has been left unoccupied. Derived from traditional Japanese forms, ‘the columns harbour potential future uses’, explains Fukushima, adding that they can serve as ‘the anchor point of any partitions or built-in furniture–like seating or bookshelves’.

Using a bold yet subtle palette of materials–wood, steel, concrete–the house challenges its immediate surroundings through its ‘robust form and raw materials’. In a city where housing typology is extremely varied and housing design follows no predefined rules, Fukushima has set out to ‘integrate traditional forms into everyday life’–something that’s long been replaced by the neon lights and oversized billboards of modern-day Tokyo.

FT Architects