a mass of reinforced concrete in the suburbs of Japan

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The Ideareve-Ikegami residence, designed by japanese architect Ryuichi Sasaki of the eponymous design firm, is located at the foot of 17e Century Honmonji Temple in Ikegami, a neighborhood in the suburban Ōta-ku Special Ward Tokyo, Japan. While the area owes most of its historical significance to the remarkable five-storied pagoda of Honmonji Temple, an accumulation of smaller temples, cafes, shops and residential areas have turned it into a cultural center for tourists. , pilgrims and locals.

Context of the site Image: Courtesy of Takumi Ota Photography

The brief called for the design of a facility that not only created residential spaces, but also welcomed the community and public space where the townspeople could gather, express their creativity and study music. The resulting program thus includes a music hall, practice rooms, residential units and a penthouse unit.


Interior of the fireplace |  Residence Ideareve-Ikegami |  Architecture Ryuichi Sasaki |  STIRworld
Fireplace interior Image: Courtesy of Takumi Ota Photography

The otherwise densely populated area brightens as one approaches the hill leading to Honmonji Temple – to the northeast of the site, and the Nomi River to the south. To the immediate north, a cemetery delimits the site, while a large cluster of residences make up the southeastern edge and smaller temples and cafes lie to the west. In this context, says Sasaki, “The challenge for us was to design an experiential complex in its shadow that would embrace the spiritual and cultural essence of the community, while adhering to the sorts of strictly enforced building codes that typically protect these heritage areas. . .”

Site map |  Residence Ideareve-Ikegami |  Architecture Ryuichi Sasaki |  STIRworld
Sitemap Image: Courtesy of Ryuichi Sasaki Architecture

On a trapezoidal plot, the reinforced cement concrete The structure is a sunken mass, sitting slightly below the level of the sloping street leading to it. The private space – residential, and the community space – dedicated to music, are separated – the first to the northeast and the second occupying the southwest corner of the site.

Cast reinforced concrete mass |  Residence Ideareve-Ikegami |  Architecture Ryuichi Sasaki |  STIRworld
poured reinforced concrete mass Image: Courtesy of Takumi Ota Photography

A short gabion encloses a garden adjacent to the entrance, while an outer vestibule – a four-metre-wide driveway – is bounded by angular brass-coloured steel partitions to the east and north. Besides this metal wall on two sides, the site is free and opens directly onto the street on two sides, one serving as an entrance to the vestibule shared between the music wing and the residential wind; the other leading directly to the residential block.

Short gabions delineate landscaped areas along the street |  Residence Ideareve-Ikegami |  Architecture Ryuichi Sasaki |  STIRworld
Short gabions delineate landscaped areas along the street Image: Courtesy of Takumi Ota Photography

The music wing, which consists of a double-height music hall and an 80-seat auditorium, performance hall and rehearsal rooms, is accessed through the vestibule that leads to a space hearth from the street to the south.

Brass-colored steel partitions surround the building on both sides |  Residence Ideareve-Ikegami |  Architecture Ryuichi Sasaki |  STIRworld
Brass colored steel partitions surround the building on two sides Image: Courtesy of Takumi Ota Photography

Inside the music hall, large walls with acoustic reflectors collectively form an abstract diagonal shape interspersed with multiple openings and entrances that form links between the exterior landscape and the interior. Glazed openings also help soften the solid mass of the concrete structure.

The double-height interior of the music hall |  Residence Ideareve-Ikegami |  Architecture Ryuichi Sasaki |  STIRworld
The double height interior of the music hall Image: Courtesy of Takumi Ota Photography

While the residential block and the music block share a common entrance, they are separated by a linear staircase that alludes to the hillside stairs that lead to the historic temple. This centrally located staircase that begins in the open vestibule, is consequently enclosed between two concrete walls with a skylight that illuminates the space.

A linear staircase separates the two wings |  Residence Ideareve-Ikegami |  Architecture Ryuichi Sasaki |  STIRworld
A linear staircase separates the two wings Image: Courtesy of Takumi Ota Photography

The staircase leads to a hallway lined with residential rental units each comprising a living room, kitchen, dormitories and bathroom. These private spaces are soundproof residential rental units that prevent sound infiltration community centers.

Residential Unit Interiors |  Residence Ideareve-Ikegami |  Architecture Ryuichi Sasaki |  STIRworld
Residential unit interiors Image: Courtesy of Takumi Ota Photography

The corridor, which faces north, has no openings to escape the view of the sinister cemetery in front of it. The service areas of the house are thus located to the north while the living spaces are located to the south. Here, two uniform rows of balconies on the south elevation overlook a shared semi-private courtyard that sits beyond the steel wall to the north of the vestibule.

South elevation of the dwelling unit overlooking a common courtyard |  Residence Ideareve-Ikegami |  Architecture Ryuichi Sasaki |  STIRworld
South elevation of the housing unit overlooking a common courtyard Image: Courtesy of Takumi Ota Photography

To the west of the staircase, above the music room, three staggered volumes make up the penthouse unit. Oriented completely north-south, the volume of the penthouse rotates around the axis of the building and stands out from the fan-shaped masses. A volume of the penthouse juts out into the vestibule, accentuating the change of axis.

Three volumes of the penthouse, turned along the axis |  Residence Ideareve-Ikegami |  Architecture Ryuichi Sasaki |  STIRworld
Three volumes of the penthouse, turned along the axis Image: Courtesy of Takumi Ota Photography

Inside, the spaces allow for a variety of spatial configurations, made possible by sliding walls that enlarge the living and dining areas. Additionally, the master bedroom can be reconfigured into multiple bedrooms to accommodate additional users. Designed over two floors, the north facade of the penthouse is glazed with full-height openings that provide views of the terrace above the music hall.

  • Sliding walls inside the penthouse |  Residence Ideareve-Ikegami |  Architecture Ryuichi Sasaki |  STIRworld
    Sliding walls inside the penthouse Image: Courtesy of Takumi Ota Photography




  • Glazed openings at floor height leading to the terrace |  Residence Ideareve-Ikegami |  Architecture Ryuichi Sasaki |  STIRworld
    Glazed openings at floor height overlooking the terrace Image: Courtesy of Takumi Ota Photography

Zoning regulations in Japan are a centralized set of guidelines that primarily relate to the city, while housing is a bottom-up process. The housing model is therefore not made up of hard physical rules about buildings and typologies, nor loose rules about community and the role of people in the neighborhood. However, a pyramidal stacked zonal model is applied nationwide, resulting in neighborhoods and buildings that are neither exclusively residential nor commercial and instead focus on building setbacks and scale. It is therefore not uncommon to see commercial, community and residential activities piled on top of each other, which seem to have no order – physical, social, architectural or otherwise. The Ideareve-Ikegami is one such mixed-use complex in a dense context, which is not only historical but also characterizes the logical disorder that characterizes built form in Japanese cities, which illustrates mixed-use architecture Who embodies Japanese architecture.

project details

Last name: Residence Ideareve-Ikegami

Location: Japan

Builders: ArchitectureRyuichi Sasaki

Architect: Ryuichi Sasaki

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