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Tezuka Architects Japanese Design Inspiration

by Chad Ludeman on March 11, 2010 · 5 comments

in architecture,inspiration,process

I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Takaharu Tezuka of Tezuka Architects give a lecture at UPenn recently. Tezuka is one of my favorite Japanese firms that has been producing amazing homes for about two decades and is getting into some interesting larger commercial commissions as they have grown in the past 5-10 years. If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you probably have seen some of their work in our inspirational posts. Tezuka’s lighting designs gave us confidence that the bare CFL’s in our homes would not only work, but look better than most traditional recessed lighting layouts.

You’ll notice in the picture of the Tezuka’s above that they are wearing blue and red. One of the interesting and quirky things about them is they always wear the same thing. Mr. Tezuka said he has about 100 of the same blue shirt that also comes in long sleeve versions. He wears blue every day, while his wife wears red, his daughter wears yellow and his son has claimed the color green. They are making me revisit my desire to simplify my life by going out and buying 20 of the same grey t-shirt.

On to the architecture. Below I wanted to quickly highlight the three projects that Tezuka spoke about in his lecture.

The Roof House

The first project is one of their most famous works titled “The Roof House.” The most interesting thing about this house was the overall approach to the design. The Tezuka’s visited the family’s current house when they were hired to design them a new home. The first thing the family showed them was a very small and quite steep tiled roof section that they could access through a small window. The entire family, including the small children would climb out on this roof almost daily to spend time together eating meals or just chatting.

This visit inspired the Tezuka’s to build a very modest house that was all about the roof. You can see below that the living quarters are very small and minimalist which is fairly standard in Japanese architecture. The big difference is the enormous roof that includes a mini kitchen, a fireplace and even a shower. The family can access the roof through a series of small ladders and skylights, mimicking the method of entry to their old roof through a small window.

This house reminded me a bit of how many of us live in tight quarters in Philly and other dense cities in the US. We often have a very modest flat or rowhome with a tiny outdoor yard, balcony or roof deck that can capture the majority of our free time when the weather’s nice. It’s interesting to see this concept taken to the extreme in The Roof House.

Fuji Kindergarten

I think this Fuji Kindergarten was my favorite of the three works Tezuka presented and one I had not seen before. There were a hodgepodge of buildings on this site that made up a kindergarten with a somewhat secluded and gloomy playground area. With Tezuka’s new design everything about the site and those that interacted with it transformed. The way the children learned and played was transformed and vastly improved. The public is also attracted and invited onto the round deck on a daily basis to enjoy a site that they would’ve probably passed by without noticing in the past. To me, this building project represents a lot of the reasons we got into development. We don’t just want to develop buildings that look cool and lower utility bills. We want to transform the way people live, work and socialize. We’re working on the first of those three now and hope to get to the others sooner than later.

This building is basically a giant doughnut. What’s unique about the interior space is that there are no dividing walls whatsoever between the classes. There is movable furniture and organizers that can be re-arranged to alter the classrooms as needed. The children are not distracted by what’s going on in the center of the building or the noise from there fellow classmates in the next section over. They learn to work in a typical environment at a young age. Another positive impact that the new building has had on the way the children learn is the flexibility of the classes. If a child is getting bored, behind or ahead in one class, they are free to move on to another class in the building. This keeps things interesting for the children, keeps them learning and ensures nobody is falling into a rut in their learning and social development.

Woods of Net

The Woods of Net pavilion replaced an old pavilion that held this unique piece of artwork. Daily attendance rose from 20 people per day to over 4,000. ‘Nuff said.

Tezuka has many other projects listed on their site. It’s very much worth a couple of minutes searching through for inspiration. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Matt March 11, 2010 at 7:22 pm

What are your thoughts on roof access and green roofs for your future projects? Sanyo makes a PV panel with some translucency to it, and a transparent backing that allows collection of albedo light (indirect). They have the potential to generate about 15% more power than a standard PV panel. Such panels could be dual-purposed for rooftop shading over certain types of plants, and for protection from the sun for people on the roof. The height limit for residential zoning is about 35 feet, right? And it can be exceeded provided there’s a specified setback?

2 steven leighton March 12, 2010 at 12:52 am

“They are making me revisit my desire to simplify my life by going out and buying 20 of the same grey t-shirt.”

get sincerely simple and buy 3. Wear, wash (dry, press) why 4?

3 Neil Watson March 12, 2010 at 5:14 am

Lovely designs and great concepts. My favorite one is the Woods Net

4 Goran March 14, 2010 at 11:47 pm

Several of their “Capture the Sky” homes are located in urban areas without much of a view. Surrounded by other buildings, or by utility wires, these homes bring light into the interior by using an elevated central skylight, or opening, above an interior courtyard.

Its amazing: you go from a harsh, gray, crowded, urban environment, and are transported to a peaceful, private, courtyard with azure sky, surrounded by open rooms clad in bare wood.

I wonder how they deal with energy issues in designs like that?

5 Marie March 18, 2010 at 1:26 pm

WOW! The Woods of the Net is amazing! I looked at the last picture and was going to ask what it was, and then realized it was the Woods of the Net interior! I also loved the personal additive about the family always wearing the same color, I thought that was cute :)

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