ATLAS housing MAKOTO SEI WATANABE

ATLAS housing MAKOTO SEI WATANABE

 

From the Compositional Principle of the Town:
THE REGULARITY IN IRREGULARITY

The sense of scale of Ogikubo molded by modest-sized houses, narrow streets and alleys and tidily kept gardens gives the area an intimate, homey feel.
Yet the clusters of houses that are all a little different give the town a unity without rigid uniformity.
Both these aspects are its image and its attraction. In order to make viable multi-unit housing of a scale larger than single houses while maintaining these virtues of the townscape, I sought a whole new solution.

That solution represents the endeavor both to utilize compositional principles abstracted from the townscape as it is today and, to pursue a new direction for the town that is not just an extension of the present but that responds to the changes that will occur in the years to come.

We prepared 16 different types of plans for the 20 dwellings to be built on the site and combined them as individually unique volumes.
In the process we did not try to stack up units of similar type or break up the integrity of a single volume, but adopted the approach of clustering the dwelling units as separate entities.
In place of high, imposing walls, we composed the whole by placing the units at angles to each other and clustering them in a loose and well-modulated composition.

The result is not so much a single architectural entity, but a segment of the townscape.
This principle applies to the whole and to any part of this structure.
Because of restrictions concerning blocking of sunlight on the north side and the necessity to include a parking lot, the northern walls are rather high, but set back well into the site and the low maintenance structure in front of it serves to modulate the differences in height.

ATLAS housing MAKOTO SEI WATANABE

ATLAS housing MAKOTO SEI WATANABE

ATLAS housing MAKOTO SEI WATANABE

This method of composition derives not from forcing the units to conform to strict overall rules, but by a flexible application of part-specific codes.
Each code is applied to certain parts of the building.
For example:

- No stacking of like units (non-verticality)
- When like units are adjacent, their angle of
   placement is shifted  (non-horizontality)
- Make transitions moderate
  (gradual, not radical shifts)
- No repetition of units of like size, stacking of
  series of different sizes  (non-continuity)

This method makes it possible to obtain both subtle irregularity and an uncorrupted overall balance deriving from that subtlety.
The regularity/irregularity cannot be achieved using an explicit or strict set of governing rules.
What is important is the effect of the codes that vaguely exist but cannot be clearly identified.
A town that comes into being not artificially but spontaneously and with natural warmth is the result of this ambiguity of codes.

This method makes it possible to obtain both subtle irregularity and an uncorrupted overall balance deriving from that subtlety.
The regularity/irregularity cannot be achieved using an explicit or strict set of governing rules.
What is important is the effect of the codes that vaguely exist but cannot be clearly identified.
A town that comes into being not artificially but spontaneously and with natural warmth is the result of this ambiguity of codes.

Such codes may be similar to the implicit rules governing the way rocks are arranged in a traditional Japanese garden.
Another analogy may be found in the way guests at a party initially mill around and finally gather in spontaneously formed groups.
Searching for implicit and potential-filled codes pertinent to a townscape and programming them for architectural design should be the requisite topic of research on the creation/generation of the city.
Part of our research on this theme will be discussed in greater detail in a separate section on the INDUCTION-CITIES project.
A similar principle of architecture is employed for this Atlas project, but in terms of methodology it depends not so much on computer programming as a human-created program.

It goes without saying that a building created in that manner is not presented in a simple, overall package.
Packaging an entire building in a simple form is synonymous to "inserting" a foreign element incongruous with the scale and character of the townscape where the building is located.
That was averted in the case of Atlas, in which we sought a building generated spontaneously and harmonized with the townscape.
The idea here corresponds to the conviction that houses should be different from one another just as human beings are. It seems quite unnatural that while single-family dwellings differ from one another, the units of multi-unit housing are all uniform.

One way of endowing such units with diversity is to diversify their balconies or other auxiliary spaces.
In place of that approach, we tried as much as possible to vary the designs in terms of their basic plans and frameworks.
 
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