UID: a home between the earth and the sky in Fukuyama

Keisuke MAEDA,

© Hiroshi Ueda, UID,


Ville, Housing, Apartment,

Green, Wood, Metal,

Keisuke Maeda (UID Architects) has designed a home that brings together earth and sky. The shape of Node, as the Japanese architect’s latest work is called, incorporates an intersection of the layouts of the two levels, which are linked by a staircase, but the true connection is where the trees grow out of the house, reconciling the natural and built environments.

UID: a home between the earth and the sky in Fukuyama
Contemporary Japanese architecture designs geometric shapes that fit perfectly into the natural environment as parts of it, creating poetic spaces emphasising human beings’ relationship with the landscape. One highly significant example is Keisuke Maeda’s recent project +Node, a home for three in Fukuyama.

The house is in the southern part of a forest, in which a housing development has been designed to be respectful of its surroundings. The land is on a slope so that there is a difference of about 10 metres between the level of the base and the top of the home, which extends principally in a single dimension, as it is 30 metres long.

The plan of the home is inspired by observation of the topological features of the area and the local flora and fauna. The home is a habitat for human beings that draws its inspiration from and respects the habitat of underground animals, of animals that live on the surface of the land and animals that fly. Arranged on two levels, the building has one level partly underground, containing the bedrooms, and another resting on the lower level and on the sloping ground.

Bringing together the natural and the artificial, the upper volume containing the living area juts out over the lower level over about one third of its length to form the invention that is the true focus of the home’s design.

Completely covered in cedar boards, these two levels, corresponding to two distinct volumes connected by an internal staircase, are the abstract representation of a tree which has its roots in the ground and foliage rising upwards. At the end of the linear volume jutting out 10 metres above the ground, the building has an empty space about 1 and a half metres wide, created around the existing trees. It is amazing to see how the building embraces the forest, allowing it to continue to grow freely. From inside the home, a single space concluding in the kitchen, the perspective created by the windows, one at the front and one on the level, opens up the view of the forest growing on the hill, completely immersing the human habitat in the natural one. The home’s spartan interiors have structural plywood surfaces and custom-designed furniture: wood of different tree species, the primary element of the forest, is the key material in the structure, the cladding and all the objects in the home.

The floor to ceiling windows in the upper volume, whether glassed-in or treated as gateways to the outdoors, and the patio on the roof of the basement level offer further opportunities to connect the building with the landscape.

Mara Corradi

Design: Keisuke Maeda (UID)
Client: Private
Location: Fukuyama, Hiroshima (Japan)
Structural design: Konishi Structural Engineers – Yasutaka Konishi
Total usable floor space: 125.35 m2
Lot size: 712.8 m2
Project start date: 2009
Completion of work: 2012
Metal structure
Cedar outer walls
Structural plywood inside walls
Structural plywood and cedar ceilings with protective varnish
Cherry wood floor
Custom-designed wooden kitchen cabinets
INAX bathroom fixtures
Photographs: © Hiroshi Ueda, UID


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