“Cave: Living with Nature:”
This house is located between the mountains of Nihommatsu-shi and Fukushima-shi in Fukushima prefecture. The client has an emotional attachment to the site, because they inherited the land from their grandmother. The region is rich in nature; the environment is tranquil and full of nostalgic elements and vistas. In the past, the land was used for farming, but has become fallow due to neglect. An abundance of clean water, rich greenery, and wildlife enriches the site. The house is designed to preserve the natural ecosystem, allowing for the coexistence of humans and animals.
The family consists of three members, a father, mother, and child. Their lifestyle is continuously changing as they grow older. For this reason, the space is flexibly designed so that the layout can be changed to accommodate the family’s needs throughout their lives.
This design process caused us to separate the architecture into “skeleton (structure)” and “infill (interior / services).” A conventional timber construction method was combined with a rigid-frame structure to minimize the internal columns and provide a large, uninterrupted open space. This concept allowed us to create large openings to the beautiful surroundings.
From childhood to old age, the family can enjoy the changing layout while viewing the changing seasons.
The strongest characteristic of the house is “Soil.”
Typically, soil residuals are disposed of during construction at a cost. This is very wasteful as the existing resource is not utilized. This simple material has been used in construction since ancient times and creates a familiar feeling. Instead of paying to transport this material off-site, we decided to use it to create sun-dried bricks that were stacked to create the building.
A workshop was organized with the client and his neighbors, where 3,000 bricks were made on-site. By making the bricks themselves and being directly involved in the construction process, the client was able to make the bricks and maintain their own building.
In addition, they were able to create their own warehouse based on the knowledge they gained. As knowledge of these traditional building processes fades, we learned the importance of engaging with neighbors, allowing us to build a house that is rooted in the local community.