Kitagata Housing

This ambitious development is intended to suggest new paradigms for Japanese social housing. At its heart is a generous and animated public space that unifies the various housing blocks and enriches the quality of life.

Together with the other three buildings comprising the Gifu Kitagata Housing Project, a new closed neighborhood is created. Located on the seam between a low-rise neighborhood and an industrial area, this new block acts as an introverted neighborhood, with public spaces that are only for the use of its inhabitants.

Sejima: Given that this building is made up of rental apartments, it could be assumed that various types of families would live in those units. In other words, we imagined that forms of co-habitation would not be restricted to the existing standard family, but that different types of groupings of people should be considered.

Modular Standardization:
The use of  the room unit as a modular building block is not difficult to understand in terms of standardization of major building components in any large scale housing development project. The basic principle of minimizing construction waste at the design level is achieved without doubt. Careful manipulation of spaces results in a variety of internal spatial configurations. Monotony has thus been dissolved and varieties generated while allowing for the use ofstandardized components.

Mass Customization of Spaces:
The generated complex spatial configurations and elevations result in even more complicated design and construction process. Each floor and each room thus require additional efforts and attentions from the initial design stages to the management of construction works. Although repetitious design of units and buildings has often been argued as a sound practice in terms of efficiency and economy while generating less construction waste, it shall not limit the possibilities of how we design the environment for ourselves the construction possibilities. Mass customization of spaces and building forms in the context of standardization and waste management become a new challenge. New challenges however demand and encourage the industry’s innovation and ability to move forward. In the project master plan, the courtyard lies between the four separate housing blocks designed byAkiko Takahashi, Kazuyo Sejima, Christine Hawley, and Elizabeth Diller. Because of the diversity of architectural design found within the project, strong site imagery and geometry have been created for the courtyard to unify the distinct parts of the project and to give the project a memorable identity.

All rooms are equally lined up along the side receiving the most sun. These rooms are linked on the front by a narrow sunroom ("engawa"), which constitutes an intermediate space or buffer zone between interior and exterior. The silhouettes of people moving inside are visible on the south facade as on a screen. The Sejima Wing housing units has been designed with a relatively shallow depth. With such a depth, the ‘room’ becomes the only basic building block. These blocks are combined in a variety of ways to produce a multitude of apartment plans and sections, thus generating complex elevations. Each unit, consisting a few basic blocks, has provided with a courtyard-like terrace. The terraces create holes in the building through which the far side of the building can be glimpsed, thus reducing the visual impression of massiveness. 

General Information:
The apartment building is part of a large scale public housing reconstruction project located about 15 minutes from Gifu City by car. Four women architects were selected under the coordination of Japanese architect Arata Isozaki to execute the projects. This L-shaped Wing designed by architect Kazuyo Sejima sits on the south-east part of the site where the idea for the overall layout of the development was to run the buildings around the perimeter.


21 photos and 9 drawings

Building Activity