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Shiga, Japan

Terrace House

The site and its scale

The site is located in Shiga Prefecture. The project is a three-storied collective housing for rent with three rooms on each floor which makes nine rooms all together. This lot is surrounded by ordinary ready-built houses and situated at the farthest northern edge of this area where a grave yard comes in to sight. The real-estate agent well recognized the difficulty of selling such a lot.  Thus we were asked to design a collective housing like a rampart which can play the role of a blindfold wall. 


In this architecture we make a void inside the building like a tube and create a space where light is crossing.  
This is a three-storied tube located left from center of the architecture. Ten diagonal slits cross each other on the surface of this tube. The walls are cut deeply. Triangles made by the intersection of diagonal lines are largely stripped off from the wall. The slits are creeping along the wall and ceiling, running on three dimensions of wall to ceiling to wall, or on two surfaces of wall to wall.    

One slit→ absorbed into a big opening and disappears once→appears again 
One slit→ absorbed into a big opening and splits into two→ appears again

The ten simple slits make a complicated space since the light coming through the carved wall repeats “crossing”, “disappearing” and “reappearing.
What is the reason that this tube is built?

What is this tube that has cracks on its surface? 
Residents of this building go in and out from their units passing through this tube.
Generally it is a door; it can be a doorway, or an automatic door or a revolving door, any door  that separates outside and inside of the building. It takes only a few seconds to pass through.  In only a few seconds people change their minds, enabling them to go out to town and come back home with a new sentiment.  People repeatedly switch their minds like this. Are the few seconds it takes to pass through a door enough to change one’s mind?   

In the case of usual residents of a collective housing, they have to walk through a long corridor along the dwelling units, take a lift that goes up and down, then they go out through the entrance to town. It is unclear from where outside and one’s own territory start.  Keys or security service cannot fill the gap of this uncertainty. To pass through the building is just a boring time. 
People want to make this transition time to be more fulfilled.  We designed a tube in this architecture to challenge such an issue.  People inevitably pass this tube and can change their mind by passing through it.  This tube bears such a ritual like atmosphere.  It is a place which has a purifying effect. 

To better understand the meaning of purification, let us tell you the following story: 
In olden times of Japan, salt piled up in a shape of a small cone was placed at the doorway of the house.  This miniature mountain is called morishio, literally “ mounted salt.”  It takes the shape of guardian mountains and people believe that it will purify the entrance when it is placed there.
 For instance, Sumo wrestlers scatter salt on the ground just before the game starts. It is believed that this salt has a power to purify places, and putting mounted salt at the entrance of a house can weaken the evil spirit.
To place mounted salt by the doorway, people originally marked a dividing place at which people switch one’s mind either inwardly or outwardly.  The tube will take the role to offer such a ritual place.

The meaning of tube

In the moment you enter the cracked tube made up by cut slits, you will know that this is an isolated place. “Crossing”, “disappearing”, and “appearing” of light will make you feel that you are in another world.  This amazing notion will have an effect of purifying people’s minds.
The crossing of lights is an image of transcending reality. Nothing is like this. The way this tube is resisting reality is very refreshing. 

The concept of this tube gives a contemporary form to a process that is necessary for people: Getting out of the doorway, <passing through this space>, and going out.
People notice the sentiment arising when passing there ・・・, they recognize the crossing of light. ・・・Feeling of coming home.  Bustling noise disappeared. You are purified. Silence and emptiness.  Your mind is empty. 
A vase without flowers.  A bottle without beverage.  Getting into the world of such emptiness, a world of light where nothing stirs your sentiment.



Terrace House

Architect: Eastern Design Office

Location: Shiga, Japan

Year: 2006

Site area: 300.94m2

Total floor area: 379.67m2

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