NotM EASTERN design: Villa Saitan

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The architecture is covered with a wall in which holes are cut. The shape of the holes resembles a trunk, leaves, a root and bulbs. It also can be seen as clouds floating over the trees. The concrete shape which is based on nature turns into a hollow cave: light, and sunbeams filtered through trees.

It’s been a minute now since our last post on our current featured ‘Ninjas of the Month’ – EASERNdesign. Keeping the series alive, here is their Villa Saitan project – an 11 unit studio-apartment complex in Kyoto, Japan.

One of the major factors driving the project was EASTERNdesign’s desire to create a structure that was different from the repetitive, impersonal nature of a ‘typical’ apartment building. The goal was to wrap the units with a continuous facade that would give the appearance of one unified home. This was achieved by cutting through the concrete walls in a nature-inspired root/trunk/leaf pattern. Behind this think wall the units are enclosed by simple glass walls on the exterior – with the concrete walls serving as sun-shading and privacy device.

This concrete shell is then covered in some kind of OSB or fiberboard, softening the forms by giving them an almost fabric-like aesthetic.

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Another noteworthy aspect of the project’s layout is the public open space carved out of the ground floor of the building – linking the two sides of the site with a covered/protected external passageway. This inner pathway also connects to the owner’s yard, allowing him direct access to the apartment building’s facilities [which he manages himself].

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What does the name Saitan mean? Tan is the color of the shrine gates, vermilion. It is also the color of pale red granite stone. Vermilion will not be weathered. It is said that vermillion is a sacred color and it used to be applied on serving dishes and bow and arrow to make them holy ones. Sai means variety of beautiful colors that make something more attractive.

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What I really don’t understand is what exactly is going on with the facade shown above. I kind of like it for whatever reason, so it isn’t that – I just don’t see how it ties in to the curvy, nature-inspired front. It makes for an odd dichotomy that seems to give the building a kind of multiple personality disorder.

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EASTERN gives additional reason for the plant-like design of the concrete facade:

This land was once the site of NIshihachijo-palace, which was the residence of a hero of the Japanese classical tragedy, ‘Tale of Heike‘. It was a stage of rise and fall of a clan in the 12th century. Such an old and sad memory is cherished and still told among the people of this neighborhood.

The collective housing that is built on such a historical place should not be seen as an average apartment house. Such notion occurred to us, which might have led us to the idea of an ‘immortal tree.’

We, therefore, designed a building which does not take vaguely a shape of a tree, but rather an intense and massive form with a tint of movement.

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More images of this project can be viewed here, at AMNP’s Flickr page.

.:previous firm profile of EASTERN design office->

.:Slit House->

.:MON Factory->

::photographs by Kouichi Torimura::

::images, info + quoted text courtesy of EASTERN design office, Inc::

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