What’s on the ground floor of this wave-like Japanese house? A sake store

Kitami, Japan – Shophouses are quite standard around the world, from Southeast Asia to Quebec: usually three stories high, with a commercial space on the ground floor and the remaining square metres above dedicated to residential use. A new shophouse in Japan, though, goes above the curve in this mixed-use typology: it seamlessly links an apartment to a sake store by way of a sinuous tube structure.

To architect Jun Igarashi, Corridor of the Fold was a building worthy of Kitami, a city close to the sea. Located in the Hokkaido prefecture, ‘the surrounding environment is the ocean and the architecture is an island floating in the sea,’ as he poetically explained.

To maintain the illusion of that island, he had three sides of the dwelling facing the road, while the fourth is angled in a way that transport vehicles can load and unload sake crates hidden from view. Even the entrance of the store itself is kept invisible, located on a purpose-built alley. It looks, from afar, like Hokkaido’s Mount Yotei emerging from the still landscape, with the sea a few kilometres ahead.

The complex topography of the island also made it to the cove-like interior spaces, as the shop counter mimics a quiet coastline – something replicated in the furniture-like structural additions above. ‘In this space, the cabinets and seats are living and floating,’ he mused. ‘To paraphrase Charles Moore, these rooms are the architectural version of the spacious ocean.’

jun-igarashi.com

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