24-05-2004

MAKUHARI HOUSING, Chiba, Japan

Steven Holl,

Japan,

Condos, Housing,

Stone, Cement,

Program: total of 190 residential and commercial units.
Client: Mitsui Fudosan Group.
Design architect: Steven Holl.
Project manager: Tomoaki Tanaka.
Interior designers: Koichi Sone and Toshio Enomoto (Kajima Design)
Location: Chiba, Japan.
Use: 190 apartments and small shops.
Site area: 8,415 m2.
Covered area: 4,243 m2.
Status: completed in March 1996.
Holl's work: 6 buildings:

1. East Gate House (Sunlight Reflecting House)
2. North Gate House (Color Reflecting House)
3. North Court House (Tea House)
4. South Court House: Public Meeting Room (House of the Blue Shadow)
5. West Gate House (House of Fallen Persimmon)
6. South Gate House: Public Observation Deck (House of Nothing)



MAKUHARI HOUSING, Chiba, Japan In his Japanese project, Holl, known for its philosophic and conceptual approach to design, manages to give emblematic concrete form to the principles underlying his architecture.
The Makuhari Housing complex for mixed residential and commercial use is located in Chiba, rising on reclaimed land on the rim of Tokyo Bay.
The project aims to reorganise the use of space in a number of lots, each assigned to a different architect, in order to preserve the variety and pleasure of the spatial experience.
Holl's work in particular breaks up the plan of the original structure at the four points of the compass so as to create "doors", with the addition of a new building in the centre of the courtyard to form two smaller gardens or "patios". Holl worked principally on a complex of 6 buildings inspired by the contrast of:
Lightweight = Activists = Sounds
Heavyweight = Bracketing Blocks = Silence

The buildings are thus interpreted in two different ways:

First - on the one hand, buildings hosting private residences. These are characterised by massive, continuous walls of reinforced concrete: the "weight" of these blocks makes them into "brackets" or wings sheltering the common areas, consisting of gardens and the large pool of water, from the street and the surrounding area. The "silence" is born out of the metaphysical, almost abstract dimension of these tall volumes (6 storeys), in which the rhythm of vast square windows imposes formal order and coherence on the design, protecting the calm and quiet of their inhabitants' private lives.

Second - on the other hand, the buildings destined for public use are characterised by free, playful forms which add a note of surprise and play. The "lightweight" effect achieved through use of materials, colours and free form in the plan and openings provides the emotional, "musical" component of the project, preparing the user for discovery of space and social interaction. In it we experience, as the architect says, the "celebration of the miniature and natural phenomena" gives each of the buildings "individual characters and programs", creating it own "individuated sounds".

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