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.