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Core blimey: The Rose: Tokyo, by N Maeda Atelier.

Photo credits: N Maeda Atelier.

With the direction moving from spaces that tight-fit the programme to loose-fit, readily convertible volumes of building, The Rose, a house in Tokyo, designed N Maeda Atelier appears to buck the trend. What is the explanation for its novel form?

On a very tight plot, the house is conceived as a box that has been core drilled, or routed, to remove material from the volume. In some places, such as the ground floor, the volume “removed” by the drill is simply “missing”. This void is used as car parking, and an entry hall that passes through the house itself. On the upper level, such space has been glazed-in.

In all locations, curving wall sections remain that add interest to the space but also, to a degree impede usability. The curiously shaped spaces that result are extremely dramatic. This is enhanced by carefully controlled lighting, where shadow gives accentuation to the curvilinear forms.

It appears that most of the walls, including those that are curving, are structural, made of reinforced concrete. This effectively means that the layouts are frozen, and there is no opportunity to move a wall as functional requirements change.

In this sense, the building represents the antithesis of the Modernist principle of a building being “skin and bones”. Nor does it appear that the expressive forms fit the function so tightly, that they are in effect an expression of it . A rejection too of the organic Modernist tradition then.

One notion that might enlighten us as to what inspired the form, is to consider the building as a vestigial fragment of say a capsule hotel, where the capsules have been removed leaving just the infrastructure. With this interpretation the building appears to fit within some kind of conceptual order of modern Japanese architectural tradition.

In effect ,the question is not how will the building adapt to future change, but is this a fair critique of the Japanese architectural experiment in Metabolism?

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DETAIL 11/2019
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