© Takasaki Architects

Hotaru no yuya / Bathhouse of Fireflies // Takasaki Architects

Ōtsuka, Hiki-gun, Japan

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Text description provided by the architects.

The cosmos of heart for all
Everything was exposed by the unprecedented great disaster and then the essential quality of what surrounding our everyday life appeared as “a sharp edge” on our throat.
Now the attitude of “the heart facing the heart” is demanded for our community.

The background of “Hotaru no yuya”and the theme ‘building the heart project’
Just after the Tohoku earthquake in 2011, I visited Minamisoma-shi, one of the city suffered from a massive earthquake, a giant tsunami and the nuclear disaster of Fukushima dai-ichi that Japanese had never experienced before, in order to face the actual situation and atmosphere of the site.

© Takasaki Architects

© Takasaki Architects

I then decided to live under the same roof with the sufferers in the evacuation site within a range of 23km from the nuclear plant, and made and donated the dwellings and the gathering spaces to them.
When we had a tea ceremony in the gathering space, those who had locked themselves in the evacuation room dressed up in their best clothes of what they had and participated the ceremony.

© Takasaki Architects

© Takasaki Architects

I learnt a lot from the scene that they cried without any inhibition and rejoiced with each other as if their heart were melted by the warmth of tea which evokes their usual life.
Therefore I realized the importance of creating the architectures connote “a new heart of Japan” and “a new heart of the world”; the concept I conceived from a study about the regional tradition, mental and spiritual culture based on the theme of “having a close dialogue with oneself and retaining the dignity of man” and “maintaining the continuity of life and strengthening the interpersonal bonds among the community’s members”.

© Takasaki Architects

© Takasaki Architects

I seek the design which enables to embody the miraculous aspect of human’s heart, and give everyone a sense of continuity of life, a peace of mind, and a hope for the future.

Hotaru no yuya build the heart project
I termed the projects which would become treasures and bring pride to people in a community as well as developing their heart, as “build the heart project”, and existences including humans and objects with a sense of value of the spiritual emanating from themselves, and the architectures with an expression of harmonious cosmos as ‘Fireflies’.

The csgy of 9.9㎡
The “hotatu no yuya (the bathhouse of fireflies)” was built in the premise of over 260 years old ryokan (hotel) in Ogawa-machi, Saitama prefecture, the hometown of wasi (Japanese paper) that is an intangible cultural heritage object registered by the UNESCO.

© Takasaki Architects

© Takasaki Architects

It was arranged next to the tea-ceremony style annex a registered cultural property sits in the circuit style Japanese garden with a central pond, as it forms an organic relationship with other components in the garden as a whole.
Based on my principles for construction management “the conservation of technical tradition and the community of craftsmen and carpenters”, in the building process, we aimed to build the authentic sinkable-dukuri (Japanese half-timbered style) bathhouse by the meticulous handwork of local carpenters with no nails, utilizing the natural materials such as wood (Japanese cypress, chestnut tree, etc.), soil (volcanic ash), charcoal, and paper(wasi=Japanese paper).
It is composed of a tearoom ‘the space of zero and one’ and a bathroom ‘the space of clear mirror’, and a pair of gates in a washroom set in the middle of them forms a correlation between those two heterogeneous spaces.

© Takasaki Architects

© Takasaki Architects

The scale of the building was confined to 9.9 square meters with the intention to give the architecture the expression of condensed cosmology.Space of zero and oneI termed the space “the space of zero and one” where users unfetter their mind from all thoughts about the everyday life. People tend to predict many things in their unpredictable everyday life, and focus only on their future but not on a present moment.

© Takasaki Architects

© Takasaki Architects

This space is a tearoom of 3.65 square meters where users can idle away in their empty mind and appreciate the inner space of architecture, sky through the skylight and Japanese garden through the openings in each moment. The central post set in a study made of chestnut tree that is the main construction material in the prehistorical period in Japan stands metaphorically as a bridge between heaven and earth.

© Takasaki Architects

© Takasaki Architects

The decorative alcove was built with the traditional plaster technic from Edo period called “Hotaru Kabe (fireflies wall)”, and is rare to be seen in our days.Space of clear mirrorI termed the space “the space of clear mirror” where users calm their mind as serene as a polished mirror. Users soak themselves in a cypress bathtub and clean their body and mind, calm themselves and listen to their inner voice within the context of the three-dimensional relationships with the sky and the landscape of garden.

© Takasaki Architects

© Takasaki Architects

The appearance of radius corners softens the look of the north interior-wall, and a wooden statue termed as “spiritual earthian” holds his place on an overhanging wooden bracket from a pair of posts made of cypress and creates the tense atmosphere within the space.DATA SHEETLocation:Ogawa-machi, Saitama, JapanYear:2015Floor area:9.9m2Time Schedule:Design 6 months, construction 6 monthsProject Team:TAKASAKI ArchitectsMaterials:Wood frame, plaster, paper, charcoal, etc.

© Takasaki Architects

© Takasaki Architects

Builder: Yamaguchi koumutennPhotographer: Sakaguchi Hiroyasu, TAKASAKI Architects.

© Takasaki Architects

© Takasaki Architects

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