Monday, June 27, 2011

Homemade nature

Like I said before... Japanese themes never cease to tire me :)

Kamakura House | Kamakura
Foster + Partners

Designed for a prominent collector of Buddhist art, this house was conceived as a modern retreat with distinctly Japanese influences. Located in a quiet residential neighbourhood of Kamakura, a coastal town one hour south of Tokyo, the house occupies a site with rich historical associations. These include a Shinto shrine and caves, carved by hand into the cliff-face, which formed part of an eleventh-century workshop for crafting samurai swords. The house is one of three buildings on the site alongside a pavilion, with a gallery for displaying art works, a large function space, and specialised storage. The overall composition ties these buildings together in a harmonious arrangement, informed by the Japanese belief that nature is at its most beautiful when considered in relation to the man-made.

A series of parallel structural walls organises the interior spaces of all three buildings, which are further articulated by perpendicular infill walls that carry the service functions. Special attention has been paid to the subtle use of colour throughout the interiors, with muted tones and dark grey ceilings that add a degree of intimacy. The design team developed a number of specialised materials for the project. The primary walls are clad with a custom-manufactured reconstructed stone, while glass blocks made from recycled television tubes provide diffuse light. Hand-sculpted terrazzo elements are used throughout. The floor surfaces are covered in part with antique Chinese tiles, and the indoor pool is finished in glazed volcanic stone tiles.

The house is planned around the rugged landscape and focuses on a mature cherry tree. Circulation through the building is organised around a sequence of views that progressively move from darkened to fully lit rooms, revealing the houses natural surroundings and the clients extensive antique and modern art collection. A comprehensive integrated lighting system, which includes fibre-optic installations, dedicated spotlights, and naturally backlit glass blocks, further emphasises major individual art works. The attention to the play of light and shadow, created through a combination of materials and artificial and natural light, is fundamental to the design of the house and evokes the quietude of traditional Japanese architecture.

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