villa man-bow is a vacation house built in Atami City, a spa resort on the Pacific Ocean, about 100km west from Tokyo. The site is located on a ridge, a steep rocky flank with about 70 degrees gradient, facing north to a splendid view of the sea across the valley. It is about 9 meters above the front road, which gave difficult conditions to construction. In addition, the district is notorious for gales, high humidity with dense fogs, as well as lots of earthquakes. The furious salty wind coming up from the narrow valley from the ocean, in particular, is the most dangerous factor. In fact, many houses have lost their roofs and walls every typhoon season. The client is a film-production family, a relative of the famous film producer, Akira Kurosawa. Their keen request was an extraordinary architecture for impressing such gorgeous guests as movie stars.
There were four hurdles to overcome. First of all was how to mitigate the wind load to the building. Second was, from living room, how to secure the splendid view of the horizon over a tall cherry-blossom tree. Third was how to cope with the humidity from the dense fog, and the last was how to alleviate the chore of removing of autumn leaves.
I tried to adapt a round shape on the valley. Watching around the environment, I noticed that most of trees on a ridge shape quasi-round or corn, which I realized the essence of nature. They never resist against the gale, but make it passed through to behind. I adopted piloti to make the building body higher up above the ground for ensuring the view as well as for avoiding humidity. Thus, a round on piloti came out. However, a sphere was too big out of the site and too small to contain whole functions. At last, I reached to deform the sphere into ellipsoidal; then, to which I attached a shoe-box only for containing bedrooms.
Inner surface is all painted in white. In the white-out sphere, like a reverse view from the inside of an egg, one could experience a certain endless space through voids as well as one's unreliable senses for understanding space. One loses the perception for distances in a white-out space. The perception game between architectural space and the human body is to provide the "extraordinariness" of the building.
Text by Satoshi Okada