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Imagination of the inside 


  We renovated a 60-year-old shop-cum-residence in Tokyo into a three-family house. The site faces a shopping street, and the owner has been running a rice shop on the premises since the sixties and has been living in close contact with the surrounding residents. We chose to renovate the house rather than rebuild it so as not to lose the ties that had been nurtured over the years. We divided the accommodation into two sections, one on the first floor and the other on the second floor, and set these behind a new, double height atrium which acts as a threshold between the interiors and the street.


Something Invisible

  Every grandmother's house has its own unique memories. For me, my grandmother's house was also

a strange house filled with objects, unused rooms, inaccessible rooms and a lot of things that I could not grasp. And along with all these things, there was also something invisible. It lurked in the gaps between things, hidden from view in everyday life. In the past, it would have been a place where ghosts and goblins lived.

 When I visited this house for the first time, I was not sure how to proceed with the design because the "invisible something" that I could not fully grasp covered the interior of the house with a presence that eluded me. After being occupied for so many years, the interiors had become densely inhabited with many objects and items of furniture having been added over the years. The outlines of the rooms had become indistinct. The real space that we can see has been covered up by the imaginary space that we cannot so easily apprehend.

  The client wanted the house to be brighter, to be barrier-free and less hazardous to occupy. I wondered if the house, which was now clean, tidy and emptied of its contents, hadn't actually retained traces or accumulation of the past life. Therefore, the design process began with facing the "invisible something" that I felt when I first visited the house and by thinking about retaining a place for it so that it would not be removed along with the luggage and other things that would be lost in the future. I also wondered if it would be possible to manifest the "invisible something” in some more tangible way. I wondered if it would be possible to create something that could be a mysterious object that is hidden but still exists, that could be a familiar yet unobtrusive part of daily life.

Invisible things

  A new, inner façade was created, set back from the street and facing onto a new double height atrium space. With its earthen floor, this space acts as a buffer between the street and the more private rooms towards the rear of the building. Two large white ceiling ‘slabs’ were inserted behind this façade and the height of the first floor was adjusted by lowering the floor to make it barrier-free and creating a large pocket in the ceiling.The material used for the ceilings is a hardened diatomaceous earth. It comes as a sheet with standardized dimensions, so the maximum size is set, but the original material itself has no size limit. Carefully assembled together, the elements imitate a single mass, suggesting an original form nested within the structure of the building.

  When you think about whether or not something is massive, even for a moment, you imagine

what's inside. If it is a real solid material, the visible surface and the content are the same, but when

one realizes that it is a fake, one realizes that something different from the material on the surface is lurking inside.

 The interior walls are made of plywood. In the detailing of each component, the pillars, which should be solid and thick, become only the surface by eliminating the displacement. The plywood, too, loses its thickness, and only the first layer of plywood is recognized as an existence. In this way, we can imagine the thickness of the pillars and plywood that should be there and at the same time become aware of "something invisible" inside the wall.

  In this way, I tried to create a place for the "invisible something" by erasing the existence of the inside and thickness from the surface. However, the interior and thickness actually do exist of course and

are filled with various things such as structural materials and services. In the atrium with the earthen floor, old beams and baseboards appear, creating a place that is really a transformation of a place that used to be a void; where invisible things can now be seen. The simultaneous presence of the invisible contents of the ceiling and walls and the exposed earthen floor space complements the missing contents and thickness, and the way the contents are created is constructed in the imagination. The "invisible something" is created as an object and exists in that place. By combining the invisible fictional existence of the inside of ceilings and walls with their existence as objects, they will become an everyday presence that makes us aware of their immediate presence in our daily lives.

  In our daily lives, we are not aware of the contents of the ceiling or the thickness of the walls, and how they are made will be forgotten once the construction is finished. It is precisely because a house has been loved for a long time that the attachment and feelings for the building accumulate and cling to the building. Showing the remaining old structural materials as they are and loving them in our daily lives is one way to pass them on, but the materials that have been exposed to the fresh air for the first time in decades are soon consumed in our daily lives and slowly disappear outside of our consciousness.

  Things that have been hidden and are no longer visible can only be seen in the imagination. It is precisely because they are not usually visible that they happen to emerge into a curious presence in our daily lives. When the demolition begins things that have been invisible until now will appear and the history that has been locked away will come to light. If those things that secretly supported the building up until now, existing behind the scenes, are responsible for the history of the architecture, perhaps its possible to involve them in further invisible fictions and preserve them for the future?


  都内にある築60年ほどの店舗兼住宅を、97歳になる母と娘、娘夫婦の4人3世帯住宅に改修した。敷地は戦後に作られた商店街に面しており、施主も当時からお米屋を営み周囲の住民とのつながりを持ちながら暮らしてきた。まずは、長年育んできた繋がりを切らさないように 、建て替えではなく改修を選び、元々店舗であった表の土間の一部を大きな吹き抜けとすることで店舗の代わりとなるように、近所の人が集まりやすい場所を作った。内部は1階と2階で世帯を分け、どちらも土間に面することで通りとの関係性を生み出している。



  また、たくさんのモノと一緒に「見えない何か」が存在していた。それはモノとモノの隙間に潜み、日常においては見えずに隠れている。昔だったら妖怪やお化けが出そうな場所であろうか。 長年住んできた家には物が増え部屋のあちこちに置かれていくので、部屋の輪郭は分からなくなり、見えている実の空間を見えない虚の空間が覆い尽くしてしまっている。そんな場所としての存在が「見えない何か」を生み出しているように思えた。 この家に初めて訪れた際にも同様に、把握しきれない「見えない何か」が見えるモノ以上の存在感として家の内部を覆っており、どう設計を進めて良いのかわからなくなった。建主から求められていたことは、明るくし、バリアフリー化と荷物を整理して危なくない生活を望まれていた。しかし、モノがなくなりすっきりときれいになった家には、今までの生活の積み重ねや痕跡を残せているのだろうか。初めて訪れた際に感じた「見えない何か」 に向き合い、これからなくなってしまう荷物等のモノと共に取り除かれることがないようそれらの居場所について考えることから設計は始まった。そして「見えない何か」を、見えないけれど存在するモノとして現すことは出来ないだろうか。




  通りからセットバックし、土間に面した新たなファサードから白くて大きなスラブのようなものを二つ挿入したものが見える。1階は、バリアフリー化するために床を下げたことで階高が上がり、 天井に大きな懐を作ることで天高の調整をした。天井に貼られたモイスは、ケイ酸カルシウムをベースにバーミキュライトや珪藻土を固めてつくられた板状の塊である。規格化されているために最大サイズが決められているが、元の材料自体には大きさに制限のない素材である。そのモイスを突き付けで貼り合わせることで、元々そうであったかのような一つの大きな塊としてマッスな塊を模倣する。一瞬でもマッスなモノなのかどうかという思考になった時、人は中身を想像する。本物の無垢な素材であれば、見えている表面と中身は一緒であるが、ハリボテであることに気づいた時、表面のモイスとは違う何かが内に潜んでいることを認識する 。内壁は合板を用いて真壁で作られている。各部材のディテールでは、チリをなくすことで無垢で厚みのあるはずの柱が表面だけの存在となる。合板もまた厚みを失い、桂むきされた一枚目だけが存在として認識される。そうして、あるはずの柱や合板の厚みを想像することと同時に、壁の中の「見えない何か」に意識が向けられる。

  このように、内部や厚みの存在を表から消去することで「見えない何か」の居場所を作り出した。だが、実際に中 身や厚みは存在し、構造材や下地材など様々なモノで溢れている。大きな吹き抜けのある土間空間には、古い梁や 野地板が現れており、今まで見えてこなかったものが見える虚であった場所を、実に変換した場所として作ってい る。天井や壁の見えない中身と現しの土間空間が同時に存在することで、無くなったはずの中身や厚みを補完し、 中身の作られ方が想像のなかで組み立てられる。「見えない何か」はモノとして作られ、その場所に存在している。天井や壁の内部は見えない虚構としての存在と、そこにあるモノしての存在をあわせ持つことで、日々の生活の中でもすぐそばに存在していることに意識が向けられるような、日常的な存在となるだろう。


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