NIIGATA – Japanese architect Takuya Hosokai skillfully managed to design a stately 56 dwelling housing complex in Niigata, Japan, while allowing a much more sensitive reading of the building. Largely inspired by Noh, a traditional form of classical Japanese musical drama, the housing complex establishes a true dialogue with its direct environment.

The designer makes a very interesting comparison between the effects of subtle light changes on the masks worn during these theatrical performances and the transformation of the built form when subjected to fluctuations of atmospheric conditions. It is in that case possible to witness the transformation from a neutral to a highly expressive architectural expression.

While the aesthetic nature of the metaphor remained a guiding principle throughout the conceptual design phase of the project, most of the architectural decisions have been informed by functional and efficiency concerns.

Given the lack of an extensive public transport network in Niigata, private vehicles are the most prevalent mode of transportation among the local population. To overcome this issue, the building which sits along a main road is supported by pilotis in order to maximise parking space.

Although the façades seems to engage actively in a clear impression of depth and porosity, their composition is in fact determined by the positioning of emergency exits and service piping systems.

Regardless of the complex’s impressive stature, the architect’s intentions are very poetic, ‘The architecture is animated by the chaos existing within its ordered structure, it is meant to gradually adapt itself to the personality of its inhabitants’.

Photos courtesy of Naomichi Sode