Yusuhara Town Hall | The Plan
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Yusuhara Town Hall

Kengo Kuma and Associates

Yusuhara Town Hall
By Editorial Staff -

The appearance, smell, texture and even sound of wood are all sensations Kengo Kuma wants to convey with his architecture. For Kuma, the architect’s mission is to stimulate, or rather, reawaken our senses, all too often buried under the weight of modern-day concrete boxes. Quality architecture means providing an experience so that “setting foot in a building… is like feeling”, says Kuma. And this he achieves with materials, dialogue with the location, and harmony with nature. Kuma taps into much of the traditional Japanese aesthetic where the relationship between exterior and interior, the built and natural world is paramount.Yusuhara is a small town of about 4,700 inhabitants on the verdant, mountainous island of Shikoku, one of the least populated areas of the Japanese archipelago. The region of Yusuhara is a natural habitat of the Japanese cedar, known as sugi, a tree that can grow as tall as 46 metres. This was Kuma’s material of choice for the town hall, not just as a veneer but also as the basic structural element. He has used it for the 240 sq m
atrium. Four-pillar columns and double, 70x20 cm, laminated beams form a 17.60 m span Vierendeel truss structure. This double pillar and beam configuration gives the construction an overall airiness despite its depth and width. The town hall is in fact one of Japan’s largest public buildings ever to use wood as a structural material and not simply for finishes. Built from the same material that grows on the surrounding hills, the atrium appropriately opens out onto the surrounding landscape. Which makes it the ideal setting for the traditional matsuri festival and other community gatherings. In the snow-bound winters, the atrium becomes a covered public plaza. One side can be completely opened thanks to a series of folding leaves, like aircraft hangar doors, which concertina back to become an integral part of the main façade.
This later, facing south, comprises a series of small cedar wood panels that...

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