Kengo Kuma & Associates / Sunny Hills , Tokyo

I came across this project designed by Kengo Kuma & Associates & was struck by the woven lattice timber interior & exterior of the building. If you saw the project completed by Kengo Kuma for Starbucks, with the woven lattice interior, you'll see an extension and refinement of the idea here.

Located in Tokyo, in the district of Minami Ayoama - just a few blocks from the headquarters of Prada by Herzog & de Meuron, the Sunny Hills building sits on a corner site, covered with wooden slats. This is not a concrete box that sits on a site, but a reflection back to Japanese architecture past & a contemporary use of materials to revive it. Beautiful architecture, can't have enough inspiring buildings.


More from the architects:

This shop, specialises in selling pineapple cake (popular sweet in Taiwan), it is in the shape of a bamboo basket. It is built on a joint system called “Jiigoku-Gumi,” traditional method used in Japanese wooden architecture (often observed in Shoji: vertical and cross pieces in the same width are entwined in each other to form a muntin grid). As the building is located in middle of the residential area in Aoyama, we wanted to give some soft and subtle atmosphere to it, which is completely different from a concrete box. 


We wanted to create and control the flow space through the structural system.


Anyone could use it to build, because wood is a material easy to cut and install. I would like to return to the traditional constructive democratic system.


The system Jiigoku Gumi is the superposition of its layers [of thin wooden chopsticks] kept compact by a third layer. Similar to fabric or mesh. The adaptation of the system Jiigoku Gumi is structurally much stronger than what we used in Starbucks, that uniquely supports the roof.

 In this sense there is a match between the traditional system and a structural system fully contemporary.


Tokyo was an amazing, dense megalopolis of wooden buildings.

In the twentieth century, the arrival in Japan of the concrete, this kind of culture was devastated. The price is the loss of our identity. If I can bring the wood in big cities and to do so once again become the main material, you can retrieve the Japanese culture. It’s my dream.
— Kengo Kuma

For Sunny Hill we kept the wood beams. It is treated to be fire retardant. The life cycle of the material is over twenty years.Step by step we will see the wood change color. It's a game that I like. Sunny Hill may be the demonstration of the beauty of aging, I think.


The building is reminiscent of certain sculptures by Japanese artist Tadashi Kawamata

Images courtesy of Kengo Kuma & Associates

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