Stilted Living

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August 14, 2011

Our September Japan Style issue celebrates design influenced or inpired by Japanese culture. In conjunction with the issue, guest writer Cathelijne Nuijsink will be covering residential projects by the core of young architects presently working in Japan. Week 2: Go Hasegawa & Associates.

 

33-year old Go Hasegawa is known for investigating the character of spaces that are partly inside and partly outside, accentuating the relationship between a building and its immediate surroundings. When an elderly couple residing in Tokyo asked him to design a weekend retreat in the dense forest of Agatsuma-gun, Hasegawa mimicked the surrounding tall, slender trees. The main living space floats 6.5 meters (roughly 21 feet) in midair and is supported by thin stilts, creating an outdoor patio beneath it. The design fulfills two requests: It provides the couple with a concrete deck on the ground floor that is spacious enough for the entire family to gather for a barbecue, as well as a rooftop platform high enough in the surrounding tree canopy to see Mount Asama during wintertime.

The 6.5-meter elevation was the result of careful studies. Exactly at this height the residents are connected to nature without feeling alienated by distance, Hasegawa says. Since Japanese building regulations restricted the building height to a maximum of 9 meters (29.5 feet), the floating upper volume—containing the living room, the bedroom and a bathroom—had to give in on ceiling height. The space is only 1.80m on one side, with a slight increase on the other side because of the soft, sloping roof. For Hasegawa this “unfortunate occurrence” is nothing but an advantage. "The tiny space makes it look like a bird's nest. The residents feel the natural forest more brightly and freshly from here," he says.

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  Go Hasegawa’s design gently communicates with the surrounding dense forest.  Photo by: Go Hasegawa
    Go Hasegawa’s design gently communicates with the surrounding dense forest.

    Photo by: Go Hasegawa

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  Nine slender steel columns (pilotis) held in place by cross-bracing hold the small weekend house 21 feet in midair.  Photo by: Go Hasegawa
    Nine slender steel columns (pilotis) held in place by cross-bracing hold the small weekend house 21 feet in midair.

    Photo by: Go Hasegawa

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  The main living space high enough for its residents to gaze above the treetops from its windows. The space below is akin to room walled by greenery.  Photo by: Go Hasegawa
    The main living space high enough for its residents to gaze above the treetops from its windows. The space below is akin to room walled by greenery.

    Photo by: Go Hasegawa

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  The concrete plaza is an open-air space equipped for living.  Photo by: Go Hasegawa
    The concrete plaza is an open-air space equipped for living.

    Photo by: Go Hasegawa

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  When dozing in the hammock on the outdoor concrete deck, one can look up and see straight through the building to the sky above.  Photo by: Go Hasegawa
    When dozing in the hammock on the outdoor concrete deck, one can look up and see straight through the building to the sky above.

    Photo by: Go Hasegawa

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  Every evening, the residents climb the 32 steel stairs to retreat in their “nest."  Photo by: Go Hasegawa
    Every evening, the residents climb the 32 steel stairs to retreat in their “nest."

    Photo by: Go Hasegawa

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  The upper floor is sparsely decorated and the height of the room is just under six feet. Because of the low ceiling height, Hasegawa designed a table and selected chairs with an equally low height, 660 mm and 360 mm respectively (about two feet and one foot). By installing a transparent glass plate underneath the glass-topped dining table, the residents have a real top-to-bottom experience of the forest.  Photo by: Go Hasegawa
    The upper floor is sparsely decorated and the height of the room is just under six feet. Because of the low ceiling height, Hasegawa designed a table and selected chairs with an equally low height, 660 mm and 360 mm respectively (about two feet and one foot). By installing a transparent glass plate underneath the glass-topped dining table, the residents have a real top-to-bottom experience of the forest.

    Photo by: Go Hasegawa

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  A view through the window in the sleeping space.Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our  FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!   Photo by: Go Hasegawa
    A view through the window in the sleeping space.

    Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!

    Photo by: Go Hasegawa

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