A House Awaiting Death in Japan by EASTERN Design Office

10.11.10 | By
A House Awaiting Death in Japan by EASTERN Design Office

EASTERN Design Office faced a challenge with this home. The client explained “I will die in 15 years. It will be a house awaiting that death. The building is fine as long as it lasts 15 years. Something small would be good. I have found the place… I’m glad the land faces East. I hate the sunset. When I die it won’t be sunset, it will be sunrise. When the final moment comes, I will face the sea and depart on a ship flashing towards death. It’ll be a time revealed after death.” In response, they created A House Awaiting Death, completed this year.

Here is a portion of the beautiful tale behind this structure from the architects:

A four-meter wide gravel and dirt road runs in front of the site. On the other side of the road is a park-golf course where several elderly neighbors enjoy their leisure time. There is a seashore behind the breakwater wall. If this were a standard house the sea would barely be visible from the site.

The ebb and flow of the tide changes with the seasons and the time, but the distance from the site to the waves is generally about 150 meters. The height of the floor is nearly 8.6 meters from the horizon and was chosen as the perfect height to view the waves from a sitting position.

The coastline where the site is located is beyond the scope of this round map. This round map encompasses the area of our activity in Japan. This project takes us to a beach beyond sublime Suzuka mountain range, yonder past the ravines of the Ise Penninsula, and exceeds the boundaries of this circle!

Early morning light streams through polygonal windows. With the overlapping windows and accumulation of light and shadow, the entire building erupts in a hymn to the morning.

What we wanted to capture in this architecture was how to appreciate the appearance of waves. How can architecture showcase the waves and make them appear? It is not just a building with an ocean-view, but a place to observe the ever changing waves.

He wants to anchor his life before he sails away from the sea coast flashing towards an unknown shore. This is the house we are going to design.
How do we interpret his message? We are not only designing a house, but are creating the port from which his liberated mind will depart across the ocean. This is what our work must encompass.

The afternoon scenery. The windows face east and thus do not admit direct sunlight, but instead have a clear view of the sea.

The scenery in the morning. The sun streams in through these “wave capturing windows.” In the left corner is the “reclining” wave-viewing wooden lounge. The form of the windows changes to correspond with people in sitting, reclining, and standing positions.

Therefore, this house sees waves. We want to make you think that the waves part of the interior of the house. It is not simply a house open to the sea. We were not satisfied to design a house with a sea view just because the seacoast is a mere 150 meters away. The sea must be incorporated into the open space of the house.

The Site is 440m2. Floor space is 73m2 is a house facing the East.

The plan takes V-shape that will draw the waves. In other word it is expected to open to the waves. Slits are cut on a V-shaped wall. Through the edge of slits, watch and listen to the waves while lying on a wooden lounge or while standing and cooking. (This time we did not incorporate slits on the exterior wall, but use them on a symbolic interior wall.)

We have hoisted ship anchors on the wall. A two-pronged anchor is suspended from the wall and a four-pronged anchor is fixed to the top of a type of narrow bearm. They are the symbols of a man who has lived a life of relentless rage.

A two-pronged anchor on the wall, a four-pronged anchor on the ground: It was our intention to symbolize an outlaw who has lived a life of relentless rage and a voyage with ready to depart with anchors aweigh. The disposition of a man who has unfastened an anchor is light. Suppose a dream he dreams is a butterfly. The image of him swinging in the rocking chair shall be deemed as a butterfly.

A blue butterfly is a symbol of the blue ocean. It also symbolizes people going to fly in a free manner. The blue wings of a butterfly were designed into the windows. The blue we find there is the same blue of the ocean. It is also a wavering light of the waves which can be seen when looking up the surface of ocean from the bottom of the sea.

There are two central windows inside the room and they are lapped over each other. There are two walls overlapping each other. Two openings are made on them with different shape. These two overlap each other between the rocking chair and the sea and make into one form. Like squeezing a wet cloth with both hands, these two different shapes of windows crop the blue seascape. Like a drop of water, waves appear from these different window shapes.

A candle stand is set between the overlapped walls and windows. Candles are lit at dawn along the horizon that connects the sea, sunrise, waves and the client’s chaise. The fire waits for the sunrise of that singular day.

At 6:12 AM in the morning dawn has yet to rise. A candle flame flickers between the overlapping central windows. It seems exactly like a ritual waiting for the sunrise.

The dawn of 14th of February. From 06:12 to 07:06. Let us explain the unbelievable 54 minutes we had. East is where the sun rises. It means beginning. The sun rises and a new day begins.

At 7:06 in the morning. The sun ascends from the center of the two layers of windows. The architecture has captured the sun!

The house built in response to the client’s request “I want you to build me a house awaiting death” is a house where a new “beginning” can be seen each day.

A window of the sea and a butterfly. Is this reality or is this a dream?

Location: Ise, Mie Prefecture, Japan
Site Area: 440.29m2
Total Floor Area: 74.52m2
Structural Engineering: Hojo Structure Research Institute
Contractor: Daikokukensetsu
Photographer: Koichi Torimura

Jaime Derringer, Founder + Executive Editor of Design Milk, is a Jersey girl living in SoCal. She dreams about funky, artistic jewelry + having enough free time to enjoy some of her favorite things—running, reading, making music, and drawing.