What shape am I?

31 Mar 2011

An insight into the use of irregular shapes in four projects by Nadamoto Yukiko Architects


Roji, meaning alley in Japanese, is a cafe and residence owned by a young couple in Yoichi, a small seaside town in Hokkaido, Japan. The name derives from the centre piece of the Roji project, a narrow alley-like passage in the heart of the building. The indoor alley connects the private living space and the cafe, functioning as a main thoroughfare.

Situated in a quiet residential area of the town, the cafe didn't require eye-catching signage or exterior decoration. The chimney of the coffee roaster is the only sign that indicates it is a cafe. Yukiko Nadamato Architects chose coffee brown as the base colour for the cafe's interior so that the white of the coffee cups would stand out. This contrasts with the private living space of the building which is a crisp white throughout.

Each room and open area is irregularly shaped in order to maximize the utilization of space. This irregularity in the floor plan enables the interior to be attractively sunlit from a variety of angles.

House N

House N, originally a home built by a son for his 90-year-old mother, had to renovated and replaced due to its location in Sapporo, Hokkaido, where the snow lies up to 140cm deep each winter.

As the elderly woman was not well enough to move out of the old house, even temporarily, while the new house was under construction, the architects developed a plan to build the new house whilst leaving the old home for the mother to reside in. At the same time a special effort was made to leave as many trees as possible on the premise in order to preserve the view from the windows.

The final product was House N, a building comprised of 6 box units. Three boxes were initially constructed while the mother remained in her old home. After the three boxes were completed, the mother could move into the new building. Her old house was then taken down and the remaining three boxes were built.

The Flower Shop, Green Life

Japanese culture, particularly the traditional arts such as calligraphy and flower arrangement, rely much on the concept of "the beauty of space". In calligraphy we see how not only the characters themselves, but also the"space" on the paper in which the characters exist is able to express beauty. Yukiko Nadamoto's plan for a small flower shop was to apply this concept of "the beauty of space" by using flowers instead of characters and taking the floor, walls and ceiling to represent 'space'.

The client asked them to transform a sales floor of just 20 square meters into abeautiful illusion. Within the floor space they provided workspace for the storekeeper together with space in which the customers could view the flower stock. In addition, the blank space of the walls acted a blank canvas upon which they could project the brilliantly coloured flowers.

Despite their different roles, the floor, walls and ceiling were all regarded as ‘space', and this concept allowed them to effectively utilize the small area to fully enhance the beauty of the flowers.

House in Kitakami

Nadamoto Yukiko architects latest project is a house under construction in Iwate.

Want to submit your project to World Architecture News?

Contact The Team