A question of perspective

Saturday 28 Nov 2009

Architecton complete house taking inspiration from traditional Japanese landscape architecure

The Japanese word 'Hojo' had been originally used to describe the extent of a space in 1jo by 1jo, (1jo = about 3m) but later the word gradually started to refer to a building in such size and scale. In the course of Japanese traditional architecture, this small spatial unit became the starting point to produce a tea-ceremony room and ‘Sho-in’ space, and later it was developed as a daily living space of Buddhist monks with an integrated garden. This house tries to resolve and reconfigure this traditional 'Hojo' in today's urban environment to secure and release the daily life physically and spiritually.

The site is surrounded by the adjacent houses and a retaining wall, which produces the precondition of internality from where some natural plants on the different levels are viewed. Into such a semi-enclosed space the architects inserted a pipe-screened translucent volume to define a loose territory which could be a weak flame. Through this screen the interior space expands outwards and the exterior comes inwards simultaneously. Eventually this space can be felt both extensive and intimate.

This mechanism of differentiation in distances is referred to as the ‘Shakkei’ method in Japanese landscape design, which traditionally means borrowing scenery in the distance to combine with the nearby garden in front of the dwelling, which are usually divided by a low wall. This wall acts to draw the scenery in the distance toward the front garden and also expand the front garden far away, finally combining the two.

The screen of 'HOJO' causes the same effect. In this way the uniqueness of 'HOJO' is characterised by its nesting boxes structure, the ambiguous boundary conditions in multiple layers, the reduction or enlargement of the notion of scale and the variety of light conditions are resolved through the modern frame structure, reconfigured as a 3-dimensional representation of these conditions.

Key Facts


Want to submit your project to World Architecture News?

Contact The Team
  • Town Planning Manager | Housebuilder in Surrey | 3+ years' PQE

    Are you a Town Planner with some commercial experience under your belt (consultancy or developer)? Would you like to work for a regional housebuild...
    • Lewis Davey
    • Surrey - near M25/M23 junction
  • Principal Planning Consultant (Policy)

    This is a career opportunity for somebody looking to play a key role in the delivery of an effective and efficient planning policy service.
    • Capita
    • Manchester/Salford (North West) or Breckland or North Tyneside or Barnet (North London)
  • Planning Officers

    Work as key members of the Councils development management service providing pre-application advice, dealing with applications and appeals.
    • Chiltern and South Bucks Council
    • Amersham, Buckinghamshire
  • Enforcement Officer - Hertfordshire

    A Local Authority in Hertfordshire are looking for an Enforcement Officer to assist them with a backlog of cases for an initial contract of 3-6 months
    • Oyster Partnership
    • Hertfordshire
  • Planning Officer

    Do you want to work for a Planning Authority in a superb world-class location, that also has an outstanding record of achievement?
    • Plymouth City Council
    • Plymouth, Devon