Toshiki Omatsu

5-Column House . Hiroshima

Toshiki Omatsu . 5-Column House . Hiroshima  (4)

Toshiki Omatsu Atelier . photos: © Satoshi Asakawa . + architecturephoto

The client required individual spaces for all three family members, but at the same time they wanted to sense the existence of others all the time.


Under the urban condition, in which the house next door was built up to the edge of the border, I first planned the family gathering space with four columns in the centre of the property, and tried to keep some distance from the next door house by surrounding it with different sized rooms. The center space was divided with white translucent polycarbonate sheets to let the lights into the space. Those different sized rooms – some were L-shaped, others were differ in ceiling heights – acting as a buffer zone to the external space and framing the center space.

Traditionally in Japanese architecture of residential houses and also of shrines and temples, the number and location of columns have an important meaning. Building four columns to construct a central space is one of the most fundamental ways of creating a space in Japan. The 5th column hanged from the centre of the 1st floor living area, has no structural purpose but symbolize a family-centred relationship in secret. It is no exaggeration to say the structural four columns merely existing for the 5th column. As the time of frameworks of family is being dismantled and reconstructed in contemporary Japanese society, the existence of the 5th column will keep asking each member of the family the meanings of its existence, which is not just a symbol.

Temporarity & Eternity
Architecture originated with a temporary structure, and it stands anywhere temporally.
But a family desires being eternal existence, but actually it is also transitory one.
A family house contains such contradiction.

In the hard skin of the house, the central space for the family gathering, surrounded by polycarbonate sheets, looks temporary structure, at the same time, it looks permanent one seeking for eternity, because of five columns constructing the space.

Under the circumstances, in which a Japanese contemporary family is becoming very fragile, the envelope with such conflicting meanings is appropriate for the family gathering space.


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