Photo by Koichi Torimura.
Villa Saitan in Nishioji-hachijo, Kyoto is sitting on a 16m x 19m lot size which has proved that the architects, Anna Nakamura and Taiyo Jinno from Eastern Design Office has provides an architecture answer on how to build a low collective housing in a quiet but dense place. The villa itself were inspired by the idea of an "immortal tree". This is because the villa land was once the site of shihachijo-palace, the residence for the hero of Japanese classical tragedy, Tale of Heike. The tale was at the stage of the rise and fall of a clan in the 12th century, because of that such old and sad memory is cherished and still told among the people of this neighborhood. Therefore, Eastern Design office think collective housing that is built on a place with such historical value should not be of any average apartment house and because of that too, they came out with this Villa Saitan, which does not take vaguely a shape of a tree, but rather an intense and massive form with a hint of movement.
"Tan" in Villa Saitan is
'the color of the shrine gates, vermilion. It is also the color of pale red granite stone, Vermilion will not be weathered. It is said that vermillion is a sacred color and it used to be applied on serving dishes and bows and arrows to make them holy. Sai means variety of beautiful colors that make something more attractive.'
- Eastern Design Office.
Villa Saitan which looks like one big house of its own consists of 11 units apartment. The architecture is covered with a concrete wall in which holes with shapes that resembles a trunk, leaves, a root and bulbs are cut which could also be seen as clouds floating over trees.
The concrete shapes resembles a hollow cave of light and sunbeams filtered through trees which were developed based on the following method:
1. lined up balconies of average collective housing are completely hidden for Villa Saitan.
2. there is no balcony for each room.
3. the ceiling height of one room is raised.
4. dwelling units are elevated 1m from the ground,
5. floor level of entrance and apartments is different.
6. center of the wall surface is curved.
7. the center of architecture facade is sculptured.
8. a curved winding slit is made on the curved wall surface.
9. the shape of the holes matches the winding slit.
10. the results is one shape of a plant growing roots undulating from it.
'Since curved holes are made on a carved wall surface, it is inevitable that the section of the holes is also twisted. This distortion resembles the shape of plants and the organic and free style of nature. The entrance to the house is from the root carved into the center of the front wall. An inner pathway peculiar to Kyoto can be found there. An inner pathway is a narrow corridor which runs from street to street and from lot to lot. In this project the inner path is connected to the garden of the town house of the client. He manages this collective housing by himself. It is his daily routine to do sweeping, arranging flowers at the entrance, and watering the path. Thus he enjoys his post-retirement years.'- Eastern Design Office.
Photos by Koichi Torimura.
Sketches by Eastern Design Office.
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