Although I draw various types of sketches for each stage of each project, here I have set out the sketches that I used for presentations to our clients. However, projects often do not go according to plan due to various factors, and most of these drawings changed form in some way when actually taking shape, or ended up as unrealized dreams when the project was cancelled for some reason. While these designs remained in the realm of the theoretical, they all hold new proposals that I discovered through my sincere efforts in addressing each and every project.
TEXT by NOBUAKI TANAKA
A microcosm hidden under sheltering eaves
This is an entertainment facility that was planned in Okinawa. Although we were presenting an original design, we wanted to incorporate a sense of implementing the heritage of the location. The walls that divide and create flows of people are a nod to the traditional Okinawan houses called “hinpun”, behind which is a courtyard (“naa”) filled with natural light that is planted with banyan trees. The towering skylight in the ceiling serves to drive in the strong sunshine, for which we used a shape that is like an inverted version of the red tile roofs of traditional houses. The ceiling of sun-bleached ancient wood, which juts out forcefully, is reminiscent of the “amahaji” eaves in traditional houses. With these elements, we translated the established design methods of traditional Okinawan houses that ensure a comfortable interior through screening, warding off evil, windbreak, and fireproofing into a way of securing a unique, self-sufficient microcosm. The lion-shaped roof ornaments (“shisa”), the limestone, the pale blue water basins representing the oceans of Okinawa, and the vivid colors of traditional Okinawan resist-dyed cloth (“bingata”) are all ways of clearly incorporating the local landscape.
The shape of the “housescape” links and connects
Creating a “housescape” with the station building. A landscape like the ones in the past, with a continuous parade of triangular roofs, comes back to this location. The face that is reminiscent of a “home” will surely bring a sense of familiarity to people, and blend in with this area with its many undulating green spaces. Its form and atmosphere should give a sense of the station building, as the gateway to travels, embarking outwards from the “home” and then coming back “home” from the out of doors. Such a station house is placed so that it offers wide views of the scenery from both the north-south and east-west angles. It bears the role of a hub that re-links and re-connects “places,” “people,” and “time” together with various design elements situated across the north-south divide created by the train tracks.
A lounge that opens up to the azure sky
Under an immense skylight, there is an atrium with a café, where small events can be held. This is a little plaza located in the center of the MAR Shopping Algarve mall. It follows the same design sensibilities as the food court, and the symbolic tree stretches its branches and leaves into the upper stories. We hoped that this would become an indoor “pocket park”, where people could gather, relax, and be active.
A passageway for time
A lobby café/bar in a hotel. This is a location where travelers from distant locations stop by for just a brief moment. What was desired was a unique place that would keep the memory of this brief moment in time alive. The pools of water over orange tiles and the walls and ceiling that appear to have peeled away create a sense of movement, and render a tunnel-like space that is slightly removed from reality. Do you not feel a separate flow of time to the exit on the other side?
The penthouse cage
The tall windows that surround the floor space provide a panoramic view of the buildings lining the city. This is a restaurant and nightclub located on the top floor of a skyscraper. As a vantage point from which to thoroughly enjoy the nightlife of the city, the lattice-like design motif favored by the client created a space that almost seems to be wrapped in a wickerwork cage spreading from the floor to the walls and the ceiling.
The enclosed passageway
Due to restrictions stemming from the location, the approach to the restaurant ended up being quite long. We created a garden path that initially holds in rising expectations of the world on the other side of the door, but builds them up gradually. The wood lattice walls create an Asian taste to match the type of restaurant.
The Azul Room
This is a hotel that uses the traditional decorative tiles of Portugal (Azulejo) as a motif. Blue (Azul) tiles that became predominant in the 18th to 20th centuries had been used in the inner walls of the old, existing building. We restored and reused these, incorporating the same vocabulary throughout the new design, and passing on the old tradition by layering it with modern sensibilities.
Enveloped in mottling
This is a spa in a private home. The mottling of the large white marble (imitation tile) is inverted and continued. This expresses a unique flavor and sense of luxury even within the cleanliness and tension contained in the modern and simple design.
The face presented to the city
This was a potential façade for the Vitoria Stone Hotel, with the extended fifth floor and an added sixth floor. We wanted to connect the new parts to the existing parts seamlessly, while allowing them to become new highlights. Here in Europe, the face of the building that is shown to the city undergoes rigorous checks by the government. In this proposal, we followed the color scheme of white walls with yellow trim that is predominant in this area, but ultimately, we used another local color, red, throughout.
Encircled in wood
This was a representation we submitted in our proposal for the Amoreiras Shopping Center Food Court, and clearly indicates the intent to create the entire space using a single material—wood. Although various designs for details were added later, this conceptual framework of a “space of things with a single finish” was maintained to the end unwaveringly.
A shower of nature
The client, who loved greenery and water, wanted a space filled with these elements even when underground. The natural light filtering in from the outside fills the space brightly, and the scattered greenery reaches towards the glimpses of the blue sky. The surface of the water reflects and returns these images.
Suspended, cantilevered, and placed
This is a design for a staircase in a private home. Although this was an interior design, we sought something with clarity, where the structure was consistent with its expression. This is an architectural way of thinking, with decorative tastes restricted to the choice of finish. According to traditional schools of thought, a staircase is a highlight where shortcuts are not possible. The differences in the various structures supporting the treadboards encourages a changes of pace for a closer look. Doesn’t this add a subtle pleasure to the daily treks upstairs and downstairs?
Galleries that reach towards the sea and the sky
The location is Madeira island, in the middle of the ocean. In this complex, which includes a museum, restaurant, and private residences, the galleries on each floor take full advantage of the gorgeous horizon spreading in front of it. At the same time, the building acts as a new element that draws out the allure of the landscape. It creates terraces comprised of solid blocks that are pleasing to the eye, but even within these weighty forms, there is also a sense of transparency in the way the scenery on the other side peeks through the slits in the blocks. The finish is black basalt, which forms the land on the volcanic island, for continuity with the land.
Surrounded by skyscrapers
The client loved New York, which became the motif, creating a vertically enhanced space almost like a forest of skyscrapers. This is a restaurant by day, but at night, the furniture is put away, the numerous perforations (windows) in the walls are all lit up, and the space is converted into a discotheque.
An oasis bored in the ground
This was a plan for a spa extension in the yard of a private home that was already lived in. In order to limit the exposure of any protuberances that might alter the scenery, we proposed creating the building underground. This is a space where privacy is guarded closely, but is open enough to thoroughly enjoy a sense of the outdoors. Hidden underground is a tranquil world where the natural light streaming in from above shimmers in the water.
This is a hypothetical hotel using water as its motif. The space comprised of connecting rectangles, with the floor, walls, and ceiling forming continuous planes, might even be called a modern cave. Mist falls like a waterfall in the fantastical cavern, with the sound of water spilling over from the water basin creating sweet music. Although the consistent motif is “water”, each space develops into a different world, with its own unique experience. In addition to simply staying for the night, strolling through a space that is like a museum to be experienced with the senses should also be an enjoyable experience.