o estúdio [archiphilia]

May 10, 2009, 8:57 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

A sento for a flight steward to relax and recharge in between international flights.

Maidservant at a Window- Gerard Dou

When I first started thinking about the room, I wanted it to reflect the person who used it. My character (who I’ve named Sakura) is based on a woman I met on the subway in Tokyo. At first she was apprehensive about approaching me, but then as soon as she started talking, there was no end to our conversation. In a way, she was like the character in Dou’s painting. A working-class woman who was waiting for an opportunity to tell the world just a little bit more about herself.

Therefore, when moving through the building, the inner complexities of the space slowly reveal themselves culminating in the upper level where the whole “secret” of the building is made evident. Sakura can look down into the void as well into the entrace hall.

The premise of the building is to provide Sakura somewhere to rest and refresh herself with running water. The room lies on the train-line between Tokyo (where Sakura’s apartment is) and Narita- the city where the international airport servicing Tokyo is. I imagined the situation where in between flights on a stop over, all I wanted was to take a shower, to breath in air that wasn’t ridiculously dry and to moisten my skin. Hence, the room is a convenient distance away from Narita- if she hasn’t the time to return to her apartment in Tokyo to do all these things.

My parti developed from the painting- running water as the source of all things and occupying the threshold. Running water plays an important role in the sensory experience. Not only does the sound revitalise the mind, but it cleanses the body. It the first ‘opening’ in the corridor, Sakura can splash her face and have a sip of water. In the main bathing space, the fist water-opening is low, to suggest the washing of feet. Moving futher across the wall, the water-opening is higher up in order to bathe the entire body.

I took the idea of occupying the threshold from the painting- the maidservant seems to be bordering on inside and outside- being rooted inside but wanting very much to be on the other side of the wall. This idea manifested itself through the series of inhabitable spaces within the walls; a small bench to store Sakura’s suitcase and a change of uniform, a small bench for snacks, magazines and drinks and a deep window to sit in and dry off.

Further, the building is structured around an uninhabitable core pushing circulation to the edges of the space.

Just briefly, Sakura enters in the southern opening, stores her luggage and then splashes her face and takes a few sips of water. A small, deep opening provides visual access into the void. Sakura then has snack at the end bench which is embedded in the wall; looks out the window and feels glad to be home. She then undresses, leaves her clothes on a hook and moves down into the bathing space. After bathing she moves into the upper floor, dries off and maybe catches up by reading the last couple of days worth of newspapers. She moves back onto ground level, dresses, packs a new set of uniforms and leaves.

I wanted to work the idea of running water into the very fabric of the building, so I’ve developed a “plumbing system”, for lack of a better word. The water flows off the roof over the surfaces of openings -to enrich sensory experiences- and onto plates which feed out of the water-openings in the lower floor.

The two types of windows are based on the openings in the paintings. Deep ones for inhabitation and shallow ones simply to allow light in. In the main void, I wanted to achieve bright, diffused light hence the opening in the roof and large openings. I felt it would also be lovely to come home from work and be able to look up into the sky.

The deeper openings are for use as table surfaces or sitting in.

Wall thicknesses are of paramount importance, defining the relationships between spaces. For example the wall between the street and the interior is much thicker than the wall dividing the back of the site (facing onto the Shinkansen line) and the interior. Doors (or more specifically, openings) vary in depth. They are also suggestive of the human form and in varying the width of the openings, I wanted to make Sakura more aware of her extremities. And finally- the doors help orient Sakura around the rooms- she would naturally take a wider opening than a narrower one, leading her into the bathing space but eventually have to take the narrower exit for lack of choice when moving out of the western stairwell.


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