TATAMI MAT HILLSIDE HOUSING

TATAMI MAT HILLSIDE HOUSING, JAPAN 1985. GLEN HOWARD SMALL, ARCHITECT AND SHIZUO HARADA, ARCHITECT

THIS IS THE FIRST PUBLISHED SHOWING OF THIS PROJECT. I AM NOT AWARE OF OTHERS PROJECTS THAT ARE SIMILAR, BUT PLEASE INFORM ME IF YOU KNOW DIFFERENTLY.

IN 1983 I HAD AN INVITATION TO GO TO JAPAN AS THE GUEST OF SHIZUO HARADA ARCHITECT,  SPONSORED BY THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT AND THE TAKENAKA CORPORATION. MR. HARADA CAME TO OUR HOUSE IN VENICE AND SEALED THE DEAI. I ACCEPTED AND FOUND MYSELF IN FIRST CLASS BOUND FOR JAPAN . THE WHOLE TRIP WAS FIRST CLASS, BEING PUT UP IN A HOTEL DESIGNED BY KENZO TANGE, CHAUFFEURED AROUND IN A BLACK POLISHED LIMOUSINE WITH DRIVER WEARING WHITE GLOVES. MY GIFT TO JAPAN WAS A LOT OF SEES CANDY BOXES, WHICH MR. HARADA CRAVED THAT HE SHARED WITH TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS.

ARCHITECT SHIZUO HARADA HAD AN OFFICE OF ABOUT EIGHT PEOPLE AND WAS A PROFESSOR AS WELL.

MY CONTRIBUTION BEING PLUS OR MINUS TEN LECTURES TO DIFFERENT AUDIENCES, MEETING WITH GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS AND AXIS MAGAZINE. AND PUTTERING WITH HARATA PROJECTS. I HAD NEVER RECEIVED SO MUCH MONEY FOR SO LITTLE, BUT THEY KNEW WHAT THEY WERE DOING. MY MIND WAS PUT ON DISPLAY, AND EVERYONE TOOK NOTES.

SHIZUO HARADA WAS ATTRACTED TO MY GREEN MACHINE PROJECT, THAT HAD BEEN PUBLISHED WORLD WIDE.

I SPENT A COUPLE OF WEEKS IN TOKOYO, AKASAKA, KYOTO, OSAKA , AND GOTEMBA, NEAR MOUNT FUJI, TRAVELING BY WAY OF BULLET TRAIN. GOING ON THE ELEVATED AT RUSH HOUR, THE PEOPLE’S HEAD’S CAME UP TO LITTLE OVER MY BELT LINE AND PUSHED LIKE A PACK OF SHEEP. MY HEIGHT OF 6′ 5″ MADE ME STAND OUT LIKE A FREAK.

MY HOSTS SHOWED ME ONE AFTERNOON A NEW HIGH DENSITY PLANNED HOUSING COMPLEX WHERE AN ARCHITECT LIVED. HIS WIFE WAS HOME ALONE WITH THE KIDS, THE JAPANESE MALE AT THAT TIME SPENT ALMOST ALL OF THEIR TIME AT THE OFFICE AND ENTERTAINING THEMSELVES WITH FELLOW WORKERS. SHE WAS EXTREMELY BEAUTIFUL AND PLEASANT. SHE VOLUNTEERED THAT SHE SPENT VERY LITTLE TIME WITH HER HUSBAND. MY RESPONSE BEING, IF YOU WERE MY WIFE I WOULD SPEND A LOT OF TIME WITH YOU. SHE WAS GORGEOUS.

I WAS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD TAKING PICTURES AND MY GUIDE PUSHED ME OUT OF THE ONCOMING LANE OF TRAFFIC, JUST IN THE NICK OF TIME. THEY DRIVE ON THE LEFT SIDE LIKE ENGLAND, HE SAVED MY LIFE. THE APPRENTICE NOW BEING ARCHITECT KAZUHIRO MURAKAM WITH HIS OWN PRACTICE. I HAD A LAWYER FRIEND THAT WAS KILLED IN ENGLAND DRIVING ON THE WRONG SIDE. LIFE IS JUST A SPLIT SECOND AWAY FROM DEATH. I HAVE BEEN FORTUNATE.

HARADA HAD A PROJECT NEAR MOUNT FUJI FOR EXPERIMENTAL HOUSING. PAGODA ROOFS ARE SUSPENDED FROM THE MAIN STRUCTURAL POLE TO ALLOW FOR EARTHQUAKES TO MOVE THE POLE WITHOUT BREAKING APART ROOFS. HARADA WAS DESIGNING WITH THIS PRINCIPLE INDIVIDUAL HOUSES, BUT I IMMEDIATELY THOUGHT THE SYSTEM COULD BE DEVELOPED AS A WHOLE HILLSIDE OF CONNECTED UNITS SUPPORTED ON POLES WITH TENSION MEMBERS TO THE SPACE FRAME. I BUILT A ROUGH MODEL. OF THE SCHEME. THE TRANSPORTATION WAS A MINI MODULAR CAPSULE UNIT THAT THEY WERE EXPERIMENTING WITH.

CONCEPTIONAL MODEL BUILT WHILE IN JAPAN, RANDOM SUPPORTS AS NEEDED. APPLICABLE TO FINAL SOLUTION

EXPERIMENTAL TRANSPORTATION ELECTRICAL MODULAR 1983

NEAR THE END OF MY VISIT, I BECAME ENTRANCED WITH DESIGNING SOME ROUGH ARCHITECTURAL SCHEME, I WAS SO ENGROSSED, THAT I WAS LATE TO GO TO SOME IMPORTANT GOVERNMENT MINISTERS OFFICE AND THE MEETING WAS CANCELED, TALK ABOUT ME BEING OUT OF TOUCH WITH WHAT WAS IMPORTANT. HARADA DID A LOT OF BOWING AND GIVING GREETINGS. I QUESTIONED HIM ABOUT BEING SO KIND. HIS ANSWER WAS THAT IT WAS JUST A CUSTOM, BECAUSE SOMETIMES HE DISLIKED THE PERSON. I RAN OUT OF TIME, AND HEADED HOME.

TYPICAL TATAMI MAT HISTORIC HOUSE, JAPAN

TATAMI MATS ARRANGEMENTS, 3 FEET BY 6 FEET

VIERENDEEL BOXED TRUSS FRAME INDEPENDENT OF COLUMNS

AFTER I GOT HOME I DEVELOPED THE STRUCTURAL SYSTEM WITH THE TATAMI MAT I HAD SEEN IN THE OLDER HISTORIC HOUSES IN JAPAN. I WAS IMPRESSED WITH THE CLEAN MODULAR LINES AND IN THE MATTER IN WHICH THEY DISTANCED THEMSELVES FROM ALL THE CLUTTER. I HAVING WORKED WITH GRIDS IN MY WOODIE GOODIE DAYS, THE TATAMI MATT WAS EASY TO DEAL WITH. I USED IT IN PLAN, SECTION AND ELEVATION.

ROUGH MODEL, BIRDS EYE VIEW

ROUGH MODEL ELEVATION

CROSS SECTION OF HILL AND SYSTEM

EACH BLOCK HAD A COMMON STAIR AND ELEVATOR.

COMMERCIAL ON BOTTOM LEVEL.

HOUSING THREE LEVELS WITH ROOF DECKS ON FIFTH LEVEL.

PLANTING ON GRADE WOVEN INTO FRAME.

CONCENTRATING TRACKING COLLECTORS ON TOP OF SUPPORT COLUMNS.

SOLAR REFLECTING MIRRORS, SUN LIGHT TO STREETS, NORTH SLOPE SITE.

INCLINED ELEVATORS AND STAIRS ABOVE GRADE.

FLOOR PLAN

IN PLAN THERE WAS A CENTRAL ATRIUM IN EACH BLOCK THAT WAS TOPPED WITH A GLASS ROLL BACK TOP. THE ROOF DECK BEING AN INTENSE GARDEN.

A VARIETY OF FLOOR PLAN USES ARE SHOWN. A FULL BLOCK PARK IS IN THE UPPER LEFT. THE CONCEPT BEING A SYSTEM TO BE VARIED IN HUNDREDS OF WAYS.

THE STRUCTURAL TRUSS WITH A SUPPORT COLUMN EVERY OTHER BLOCK CONNECTING TO FRAME WITH TENSION SHOCK ABSORBER CABLES. IN THE OPEN FRAME WAS ALL THE COMMUNAL WALKWAYS, STAIRS, AND TRANSPORTATION. 12 FOOT WIDE STREETS WHEN NEEDED. BEING ON THE NORTH SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN, SOLAR MIRRORS WERE USED TO AUGMENT THE LIGHT THROUGH THE FRAME. THE BUILDINGS THEMSELVES BEING SILVER REFLECTED LIGHT ALL AROUND. THE MINIATURE GARDEN THE JAPANESE RELATE TO WAS EMPHASIZED WITH FRAMED PLANTS IN SMALL SPACES. THE END RESULT WOULD HAVE PROBABLY BEEN A HUGE STEEL TRELLIS THAT THE PLANTS CONSUMED. JAPAN BEING A NORTHERN JUNGLE LIKE OREGON.

REDUNDANCY MIGHT BE QUESTIONED, BUT WHAT IS SHOWN IS A FEW BLOCKS. I ENVISIONED A MORE RANDOM PATTERN LIKE THE ORIGINAL STUDY MODEL WITH A VARIETY OF ARCHITECTURAL INFILL HOUSING BLOCKS. I COULD DESIGN TEN VARIATION IN A FEW HOURS, INCLUDING THE CURVE SCHEME. BUT THE CONCEPT WAS ONE OF OTHER ARCHITECTS DOING THEIR THING WITHIN THE FRAME.

MY ASSISTANT AT THE TIME WAS DON FUKUMOTO A SCI-ARC STUDENT TURNED HELPER. HIS FATHER HAD COME FROM JAPAN AND WAS DOING LAWN CARE AND LANDSCAPING IN NEWPORT BEACH CALIFORNIA. HE AND I BUILT A ROUGH MODEL AND XEROXED THE ELEVATIONS AND PLANS ON SILVER PAPER AND BUILT A ROUGH MODEL TO PRESENT TO MR. SHIZUO HARADA THAT WAS VISITING FROM JAPAN AND STAYING IN SAN FRANCISCO. I REMEMBER PRESENTING IT TO HIM ON THE SIDEWALK IN FRONT OF HIS SAN FRANCISCO HOTEL. HE TAKING A BUNCH OF PHOTOS. SOMEHOW IT NEVER GOT ITS SHOW IN COURT AND JUST DIED. BEING ALL GREEN IN THE EIGHTIES WAS NOT A GREAT TIME, REJECTION OF THE SIXTIES AND SEVENTIES REPLACED WITH CONSUMERISM OF THE EIGHTIES FANNED BY RONALD REAGAN, ” IF YOU HAVE SEEN ONE REDWOOD TREE YOU HAVE SEEN THEM ALL”

THE HOUSE WAS A FOUR STORY CUBE, THAT COULD BE DIVIDED UP IN DIFFERENT WAYS FOR MORE THAN ONE LIVING UNIT, WITH EXTENDED FAMILY LIVING. MY TAKE IS THE EXTENDED FAMILY IS CORRECT, BUT TALKING TO THE YOUTH THEY WANT TO ESCAPE THE FAMILY. INDEPENDENCE. THIS INDEPENDENCE HAS WRECKED HAVOC IN THE FAMILY . THE EXTENDED FAMILY COULD MAKE ADJUSTMENTS TO ACCOMMODATE THE INDEPENDENT SPIRIT. BY ALLOWING SEPARATED APARTMENTS WITHIN THE HOUSE AND STILL BE ALL CONNECTED TOGETHER. KIDS ARE THE LOSER, BECAUSE THE EXTENDED FAMILY GIVES RELIEF TO THE TWO PARENT SYSTEM , BY PROVIDING A LOT OF ADULTS THAT CAN SPEND TIME DOTTING OVER THE CHILDREN. WHERE AS THE ISOLATED TWO PARENT SYSTEM OF RAISING KIDS TAKES MAJOR ENERGY AND SKILL, AND OFTEN IS NOT ENOUGH VARIED PERSONAL ATTENTION FOR THE KIDS.

IN NICARAGUA LIKEWISE THE FAMILY IS THE CORE OF THE SOCIAL LIFE AND PROFESSIONAL LIFE. WHOLE FAMILIES WORKING AT THE SAME BUSINESS. THE FAMILY BEING A FORM OF TRUST IN A VERY DICY MORAL SYSTEM.

MR. HARADA TOOK ME TO AXIS MAGAZINE. THEY DID AN ISSUE ON ARCHITECTURAL HIGH TECH. NORMAN FOSTER WAS ON THE COVER , THE LATE JAN KAPLICKY OF FUTURE SYSTEMS, AND I ALL HAD EXTENSIVE MULTI COLOR PAGE SPREADS. THE BEST PUBLICITY THAT I HAD HAD AS OF THAT DATE , WITH THE CORRECT ARCHITECTURAL COLLEAGUES, FEATURING THE GREEN MACHINE, TURF TOWN, HONG HONG PEAK AND THE FUTURE STUDIES POSTER, I WAS THE DIRECTOR OF THE INSTITUTE FOR FUTURE STUDIES AT SCI-ARC AT THE TIME AND HAD DESIGNED A POSTER ASSISTED BY AHDE LAHTI.

I CAME BACK TO THE USA, AND THAT WAS THE END. IN 1990 JAPAN INVITED ME BACK AS KEY NOTE SPEAKER AT A GREEN CONFERENCE IN FUKUI, AND THE FIRST CLASS ROYAL TREATMENT WAS REPEATED.

THERE WAS AN INTEGRITY AND RESPECT IN JAPAN TOWARDS ME THAT WAS REFRESHING.

GLEN

INSTITUTE FOR FUTURE STUDIES, POSTER SCI-ARC 1983 DESIGNED BY GLEN SMALL, IMPUT FROM AHDE LAHTI

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  • http://www.tangramart.com Tim Barnes

    Lots to like – especially the modularity and the light touch on the ground. It feels like Falling Waters with an egalitarian and environmentalist spin. I find systems the most interesting aspect of design, and this project seems all about systems.
    This project also seems to be aligned with what BIG is now bringing to the world, but I haven’t seen them taking much of an interest in protecting the ground plane below their buildings. By using the steel box beam structure, you make it possible to protect the landscape and integrate more sensitively.
    Another interesting comparison would be with Tadeo Ando’s Rokko Housing – again a fascinating flow down the hillside, but heavy concrete structures (which he does so well).

    • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

      TIM,

      FALLING WATER
      BIG, HILLSIDE HOUSING
      Tadeo Ando’s Rokko Housing

      ALL THREE ARE LOCKED INTO THE GROUND AND WEIGH A TON,
      YOU ARE RIGHT ABOUT TATAMI MATT HILLSIDE HOUSING OR TMHH BEING A SYSTEMS APPROACH. MUCH MORE FLEXIBLE THAN THE OTHER THREE PROJECTS , ALTHOUGH THERE IS SOME BIRDS EYE VIEW SIMILARITY.

      GENTLE ON THE LAND WAS THE IDEA. A GARDEN OASIS TO CONNECT TO THE LAND BUT STILL LIVE ON.

      I AM NOT SURE WHY I HAVE KEPT THIS SCHEME HIDDEN, MAYBE BECAUSE IT WAS SO BOXY. BUT GIVEN ALL THE VARIETY THAT THE FRAME COULD ACCOMMODATE, I SHOULD DO A JUMP START ON DEVELOPING IT MORE.

      GLAD YOU LIKE IT,

      GLEN

  • eric chavkin

    Glen, nice project. I knew part of the story, the brain-picking of the green machine project, but not the drawings. It has a lot of Green machine features: The concentrating solar collectors, the frame, the pre-fab modules. I especially like the interior gardens. Very Metabolist.

    eric

    • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

      ERIC,

      SINCE WHEN HAVE THE METABOLIST EVER GIVEN A DAMN ABOUT GARDENS?
      I NEVER UNDERSTOOD THAT, SINCE NATURE IS THE PERFECT TOUCH TO BRING SOFTNESS AND SOOTHING TO THE MACHINE PRODUCTS.

      THE LOOK AND THINKING OF BUILDING IS METABOLIST, BUT THE CORRIDOR FRAME WAS NOT ON THEIR SCREEN.

      YOU ARE RIGHT THIS WAS A COMBINATION OF A LOT OF EARLIER IDEAS, BUT WHAT SETS THIS APART IS DRAWING ON HISTORICAL JAPAN TO BUILD UPON. WHEN I WAS THERE I EXPERIENCED EATING ON THE FLOOR AND ALL THAT STUFF THAT WAS UNCOMFORTABLE FOR ME, BUT I SENSED IT HAD VALUE . THE CONCEPT OF EATING, TALKING, SEEING, HEARING, SMELLING, AS A BIG EVENT WITH SENSITIVITY WAS NEAT.

      THE REAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TATAMI MAT HILLSIDE HOUSING AND THE GREEN MACHINE WAS A SYSTEM THAT WAS ALL INCLUSIVE TO MAKE A COMMUNITY. TMHH COULD GROW IN SO MANY DIFFERENT WAYS AND SCALE, AND LOOKED SO PRATICAL AND SIMPLE. I THINK IT WOULD BE AN EASY SELL TO THE HIP DEVELOPER. LIKE MIES GAVE THE INTERNATIONAL HIGH RISE TO THE WORLD.

  • eric chavkin

    WHEN HAVE THE METABOLIST EVER GIVEN A DAMN ABOUT GARDENS? none that i can think of.. Maybe Kikutake but I dont think so. He was interested in floating marine cities, but not mimicking nature, not as eco-system, more like a ship. More though like Maki’s megastructure ideas in miniature because of the plug-in and ‘frame’ . Wasn’t Berlin Free University a kind of plug-in?
    Nevertheless, compared to the anti-human / pro-machine concepts of the Metabolists, Archigram, Archizoom, Superstudio et al this project has a nature based approach and was green when all the talk then was about robots and space frames.

    kinda makes the future look old and rusty doesn’t it?

    • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

      ERIC.

      THE OBVIOUS, LIKE THE FUTURISTS IN LOVE WITH ALL ASPECTS OF THE INDUSTRIAL AGE. I LIKE HOT RED LIPESTICK, BUT ROLLING IN THE HAY IS WHERE IT IS AT.

      GLEN

  • http://www.tangramart.com Tim Barnes

    The project does have a metabolist feel, to me. I think it’s the machine-like vibe I get from the trusses and metal panels in the section.

    This is more than just a machine, however – that’s the appeal – it is also about treading lightly, which doesn’t seem to me to be part of the metabolist credo.

    Japan as a point from which to spring is interesting, because of the Japanese love for materials, form, and craft. And their passion for nature, which somehow the metabolist projects don’t express.

    • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

      TIM

      Japan as a point from which to spring is interesting, because of the Japanese love for materials, form, and craft. And their passion for nature, which somehow the metabolist projects don’t express.

      I AM WAITING FOR THE NEXT FIRST CLASS FLIGHT TO JAPAN, CHERRY BLOSSOMS.

      GLEN

  • maninthemirror

    Hi Glen,
    Never realised that you were 6′.5″. Always thought you were around 6′.3″, but I guess we saw you mainly in the seated position.
    Interesting article.
    Poorer people a class above: study
    http://www.smh.com.au/executive-style/culture/poorer-people-a-class-above-study-20120228-1u12b.html

    • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

      MITM

      I SAW THIS ARTICLE A FEW DAYS AGO. I AM STILL TRYING TO FIGURE IT OUT. IS THIS BASIC HUMAN NATURE, THE RICHER YOU ARE, THE MORE CORRUPT YOU BECOME? I WOULD LIKE THE OPPORTUNITY TO TEST THIS OUT BY HAVING A TON OF GOLD MYSELF.

      I WAS TOLD RECENTLY BY A CLIENT. HIS PARTNER BEING A VERY RICH WHEELER DEALER SALESMAN NICE GUY, WHEN ASKED WHETHER THE POOR SHOULD RECEIVE ASSISTANCE? HIS VEHEMENT ANSWER WAS HE WAS AGAINST ALL ASSISTANCE. A COMMON BOND AMONG THE RICH.

      THE EVOLO RESULTS ARE TOMORROW. I WANT SOME PRAISE, BUT HAVE MENTALLY PREPARED MYSELF FOR REJECTION.EVOLO SURPRISE ME, I CAN TAKE IT. THANKS MITM FOR MOTIVATING ME TO ENTER. WHATEVER HAPPENS I FEEL A WINNER AND WILL BE INTERESTED IN COMMENTS ABOUT MY SCHEME FROM YOU ALL.

      I HAVE SHRUNK A COUPLE OF INCHES FROM MY YOUTH, MAYBE THOSE HIP OPERATIONS. YOU ARE RIGHT, 6’3″ LAST MEASURMENT.

      STAY CLOSE,

      GLEN

  • maninthemirror

    Better luck next time, Glen. And I do believe it is a matter of luck, because with a different panel of judges, the Evolo results would be different.

    Looks like the Chinese are taking over for now.

    • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

      MITM
      THANKS AGAIN FOR ALERTING ME TO THE COMPETITION.
      AFTER REVIEWING THE ACKNOWLEDGED WINNERS. I FEEL SECURE ABOUT MY ENTRY AND CONCERNS.

      PLEASE SEND ME YOUR E MAIL ADDRESS, I HAVE MISPLACED IT.
      THANKS,
      GLEN

  • eric chavkin

    At first glance the winners of the Evolvo skyscraper competition respond to news stories. Melting Glaciers, ocean waste, etc. A knee jerk response without analysis of the bigger picture. Very much like the architecture equiv of entertainment tonight.

    As I looked at the so-called winners i was disappointed at the results.

    • GLEN HOWARD SMALL

      ERIC,

      THE DOWNTOWN TROPISHERE WAS TOO BIG AN IDEA, REMODEL SYSTEM FOR A GENERIC EXISTING CITY? NOW THAT IS HEAVY!

      THE CHOSEN WERE DIRECT SIMPLE CREATIVE SOLUTIONS PRESENTED WELL.

      RELEVANCE QUESTIONABLE.

      THE BEAT GOES ON. STAY TUNED FOR DOWNTOWN TROPISPHERE.

      GLEN

  • Carlos

    Tim Barnes mentioned that this project has a machine-like feel. It does, no question. But it does pay attention to nature in a big way; in part because it treads lightly, as Tim said, and in part because it allows nature to grow under, up and through. The structural system becomes a matrix for new growth, similar to the advances in the medical field, where a synthetic matrix is implanted to allow bone to grow into and through. It is a cyborg.

  • http://www.tangramart.com Tim Barnes

    This is my favorite of Glen’s projects, because it seems to be scalable, not only from small to large, but from large to small. It could be a few units, clustering together, or it could be a complete settlement. Or something in between, I guess.

    The principles seem very robust: a light touch on the landscape, inhabit areas that are otherwise difficult to populate, bring down the cost with construction that is systematic and involves shared infrastructure.

    There’s something organic about how I imagine this evolving: create a first platform, move in. Build the next section, expand, share, adapt. Let it happen opportunistically, but retain the discipline of the building system.

    A truly modern subdivision, without the pathetic kitschy doll’s houses to which we are today subjected at every turn.

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