I couldn’t help myself. I have a weakness for all things Totoro. Here is another project by mA-style, completed in early 2010. If we learned anything about the way they work from their Riverbank House, it was that the architects – Atsushi and Mayumi Kawamoto – are often inspired by the local ecosystem and all the particular elements that come together to form it.
Upon inspection of the site and its surroundings in Shizuoka prefecture, the architects were intrigued by the nostalgia of the small village, which lay at the bottom of a ravine. On top of a hill was a peculiarly large tree, gently overlooking the houses. Firmly planted amongst the roots of the tree was an old Shinto shrine. (Whoever has seen the movie should have a picturesque image in their minds by now.)
The architects were inspired by the regal self assurance of the village, knowing that she is held securely in the palm of her surroundings.
Earlier this week it was announced that “Under the tree of totoro” had won the 42nd (2010) Chubu Architecture Award. Congratulations to mA-Style Architects!
Within that context, the value of simply designing convenience and functionality to be subsequently inserted into society was brought into question. Instead of creating an environment draped in seclusion the architects felt the need to allow the region’s climate, or way of being, to enter freely into the design. It was living, without limitations. It was habitat that, at its core, could be felt, touched and enjoyed.
(PS It’s probably the way the photos were taken, but doesn’t this home look like a dollhouse?)