learn from the land

Junya Ishigami and his team celebrate the completion of ‘Accommodation & Restaurant‘ in the Japanese Yamaguchi City. The sculptural work of the architecture suggests a naturally eroded relief, reminiscent of the tunnels and rocky vaults of underground caves, and expressing the familiar quality of roughness found in nature.

In many ways, these organic features can be seen throughout the architect’s work – with the charred wood canopy that tops its Kokage-Gumo Pavilionand with the waves earthwork who shapes his Art Biotop Water Garden. In Thailand, he introduced a Rainbow rug, whose fine brick veil is pierced by a series of large sculpted openings. One of the most experimental Japanese architects of his generation, his poetic visions often seemed too radical to achieve, making these completed projects all the more fantastical.

At the end of the house and restaurant in Yamaguchi, Junya Ishigami, who received the golden madonna trophy from Milano THE 2021-22 DESIGN AWARD, shares with designboom a detailed account of the design process.
all images © Junya.Ishigami+Associates, except where noted | header © Yashiro’s Photo Bureau

raw and organic: the excavations of junya ishigami

This latest project by Junya Ishigami for a French restaurateur now presents itself as a harmonious blend of a refined restaurant and a welcoming family home. The raw surfaces of the excavated space reflect the authenticity of the kitchen – this dialogue was truly intentional, even as the unusual construction process led to new discoveries.

The architect develops: The project is a residence/restaurant for a French restaurateur. He’s an old friend of mine, and he’s the one who ordered Tables for a Restaurant. I was asked to design a building as “heavy” as possible. “I want an architecture whose heaviness would increase over time,” he says. “It can’t be artificially smooth, but rather something with the roughness of nature. Authentic kitchens demand such a place.’

He also told me that “it must give the impression that he has been there and will continue to be there the longest”. His idea was to create a whole new, long-established restaurant.’

junya ishigami house restaurant

a welcoming space to eat and live

Junya Ishigami describes the programmatic balance between home and restaurant, according to the client’s wishes: ‘He longed for something that was both a home and a restaurant, something he could pass on to his children and grandchildren. Now he invites guests to the restaurant like he would invite friends to his home, and with someone special he would let them into the living room or even spend the night.’

When the restaurant is closed, the room serves as a place to stay for the family or study for the children. The plan is laid out with the restaurant to the north and the residence to the south. To go back and forth between spaces, they can cross any of the three courtyards that separate them.’

junya ishigami house restaurant3D data was generated from a mass model, then the mold was hollowed out manually

dig up the inverted landscape

Although the end result of Junya Ishigami’s home and restaurant appears like a natural cave, the process of sculpting and constructing the space was methodical – with many moments of exploration. The result is an inverted landscape, sculpted in part by nature.

Describing the construction of the project, the architect writes: ‘In terms of construction, we designed a process of constantly sharing, accepting and referencing the inaccuracies and accidents that occurred on site to create an architecture that internalizes natural distortions and uncertainties..

Specifically, we dug a hole in the ground to pour concrete, hollowed out the volume and attached glasses to create an interior space.’

junya ishigami house restaurant
the team dug a hole in the ground to pour concrete, hollowed out the volume and attached glass to create an interior space

The precise design

First, a mass model that had undergone countless modifications was converted into 3D data. The 3D coordinate data was then entered into a Total Station (TS) survey instrument to determine the points using a pile driving navigation system.. At the same time, construction workers dug the hole manually for precision while constantly confirming position and shape on an iPad. Unexpected factors such as grass growth, ground collapse or errors due to manual work have been tolerated as much as possible.’

“When the structure was excavated after the concrete solidified, it was covered in mud. With the range of geology, the nature and appearance of the soil differed from place to place. We originally planned to remove the dirt to reveal a gray concrete structure. However, we were impressed with how it looked with the floor which we decided to leave as is. It was then that we felt the atmosphere of a cave and decided to redesign the building with a new image.’

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