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".