Hara house is located in the agricultural village ofTsurugasone, formerly known as Nakanoshima, in Nagaoka city, Niigataprefecture. The village is in the conventional Japanese village style wherein,a single estate contains an assemblage of buildings and farmland, that areinter-dependent on each other. This village is facing the same problems thatmany of Japan’s villages are facing; a rural decline, where new self-containedbuildings superimpose themselves onto the land and create a larger and largerseparation between the residents.
Eventually, the clients will inherit their large family estatewhich similarly, already has many built structure upon it such as the mainfamily house, a work shed, parking area and a green house. Thus in thissetting, our design direction was to create a building that revitalizes thestructures already present onsite and have the potential to adapt to newfunctions as the need or mood arises.
Thus, giving consideration to the functions onsite, such as amain family house, storage areas and private rooms; most functions that arerequired in a fully self-reliant house were already present onsite, thus weplanned a house where the couple and their children can live in one corner ofthe large estate and just spend time when the mood strikes.
Instead of designing a conventional fully self-reliant building,we aspired to create a buoyant and bustling hub. We designed a space wherepassing neighbors, friends and children can easily stop by to chit chat underthe entrance porch, or workshop meetings and events hosted in the space canspill out to the land. Thus bringing down the threshold of the house andopening it to the village. Thereby extending the building envelope to create alarger semi-public space.
We started our design from conceptualizing a small building asan ‘incomplete’ remote extension of the main house. The building is not fullyself sufficient and thus draws from its setting and relies on the surroundingbuildings to fully function and even engages the village to create a thrivingcommunity.
The building emulates its surrounding, which has many vinylhouses and work sheds, and uses 120mm square timber members, to create a simpleseries of ‘A frame’ trusses. This structure creates an image of a large tent; astiff yet giving structure which assimilates all the human behaviors. Storage,partitions and private rooms have been removed, as much as possible, tosimulate one large open space that adapts to the user’s needs. In thissituation, one cannot help but rely on the support of the other buildingsaround it, thus jutting out of the building envelope and prompting the use ofthe existing architecture. The aim was to create a way of life that is nevercomplete within just this one structure, it is a piece of the greaterarchitecture; a house that is part of a group of buildings.
This vacuum in function encourages the users to invent creativeways to utilize the space; it encourages the ‘use’ of the building rather than justbeing a house you ‘enter’. This ‘house of incompleteness’ is envisioned tobecome a ‘strong absorber’, as the blank space invites people and events of thevillage to utilize it; thus the house becomes part of the greater architectureof the village.
By establishing this type of architecture, with its insufficiencyand blank space, a building is born that establishes itself in the village asan attraction of interest and activity. This singular building crosses itsthreshold to interact beyond, just the family, to the village and slowlydissolves boundaries and creates the possibility of forming new connections andbeginning the creation of a new, strong-knit community.
Someday, the couple will move into their main family house, andthis house will be passed onto the eldest son to use with his family, thesecond son will renovate the work shed and practice agriculture, and theleftover extra space will be used by interns from overseas who have come tostudy agriculture.
When thinking about such possibilities in the distant future,thoughts arise about how to design a connection that ties the future, itssurrounding buildings, the agricultural community and the village as a whole. Thus,Hara house, as a simple ‘series of truss frames’, aims to connect all theseentities, by being part of the collective form of the village. It reinforcesold and creates new connections with its surrounding buildings and community.