Koshino House by Tadao Ando
The Koshino House, an architectural masterpiece, represented a fresh start for Ando, a famous Japanese architect. He began the work of dismantling the architectural prototype developed earlier in the Row House in Sumiyoshi and of reassembling the pieces.
He gradually opened up the closed box, allowed interior and exterior spaces to communicate through gaps in the walls and between walls and the roof, and organized carefully worked-out spaces. The expressive themes became the fine texture of walls and dramatization by means of light; he began to use topography even more flexible in organizing space.
Designing of Spaces
Ando calls the act of designing a site “site-craft”; he blends together the site and the building, incorporates the landscape into the building, and makes use of every bit of the site. The interior space is extended into the exterior space, and the entire site is transformed into a space as precisely assembled as craft work.
For Ando, a closed box is the prototype for houses on small sites in central Osaka. However, the Koshino House is located on a hillside in a lush natural environment. It is a concrete building, beautiful and relaxed in the midst of nature. The corners of the box, hitherto firmly closed, have been loosened, bit by bit.
Light enters through a sky-light between the wall and the roof, illuminating a curved wall; a large window has been opened in the living room wall. The interior is gradually assimilated into the beautiful landscape.
This house is composed of two box-like buildings of different volumes, arranged in parallel on either side of a terrace. The main building contains a double-height living room, a kitchen, a dining room, and, on an upper floor, the main bedroom.
The other building is the private quarters, accommodating a total of six rooms—bedrooms and tatami rooms—arranged in a row, as well as a bathroom. The two buildings are connected by an underground corridor.
Connects with Nature
Then there is the terrace between the two buildings—an outdoor living room where one can fully appreciate the abundant greenery. Ando suggests a life in which the occupant is made continually aware of the richness of nature on a spacious site surrounded by trees, This building, which can be used to accommodate guests on weekends, is predicated on a lifestyle very different from that in the city.
An atelier was added four years after the completion of the house. Ando’s buildings are always formally complete. Thus, his task is additionally to alter a form that was once complete in itself to create another complete form. The end result must rise to a new level of perfection. Adding a few touches to a work completed in the past is difficult.
In the case of the Koshino House, Ando sought to develop a new overall image by contrasting the addition to the existing portion. The addition is positioned higher up on the hillside; a wall describing a quadrant in plan resists soil pressure like a dam and encloses a space.
A slit is opened in the ceiling along the curving wall of the addition, and light entering through the slit takes the form of a curving geometrical figure. This is in strong contrast to the existing portion, where light from the skylight takes a linear form; the two parts of the house offer different spatial experiences even at the same time of day.
The addition was not anticipated at the beginning, but Ando has succeeded in forming a landscape of even greater complexity and nuance.
Ando is a master of additions and renovations. He is always assimilating images and picturing possible worlds so that, if the slightest opportunity presents itself, he can immediately try to realize them. In 2005, he is in fact in the process of a second renovation of the Koshino House.
Twenty-five years after the completion of the original residence in 1980, he is at work on a new project. His versatility—his ability to use a wide range of imagery—makes possible flexible additions. This ability has served him we in projects to preserve buildings. That is because projects to construct new old buildings do indeed need to transcend time.