Saturday, July 9, 2011


He describes his work as a harmonious marriage of traditional and modern architecture. Demonstrating that comfort is possible in small spaces, the designs incorporate sustainable materials and eco-friendly amenities that blend indoor and outdoor environments. One of a new generation of architects, 39 year-old Kazuya Morita impresses with novel housing designs, which include a pentagonal house and another called the Shelf Pod house. Kazuya Morita Architecture Studio located in Kyoto, Japan is an example of the avant garde growing out of Japan’s oldest and most traditional city.

Morita’s Shelf Pod house in nearby Osaka is an innovative design built with floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall shelving in 557 square-feet, and accommodating ten tons of books. Nearly every interior surface is covered in shelving, from the library to the bathroom. Designed for a client with a very large book collection, Morita conceived the house with interlocking laminated pine boards that slot together to form a lattice of towering shelving units. Because the client’s field is Islamic history, every element—from stairs to windows—was scaled to the individual shelf unit. The aim was to achieve the geometrical harmony seen in Islamic architecture.

The Shelf Pod was one of Morita’s most ambitious and challenging projects, requiring shelving strong enough to support the entire house. With its unusual structure and no experience with this kind of architecture, Morita ran numerous tests and experiments on models to guarantee structural integrity, and to convince city planning officials to issue the building permit. Structurally the house can survive earthquakes. Shelving extends even into the bathroom, stretching across a wall behind toilet and bath. The exterior features a painted clay and bamboo wall, with cedar exterior wall plate.

Work on the house began in mid-2006, lasting until March 2007. One stage in building was pre-construction of the large shelving units, all assembled and structurally tested in a laboratory at Kyoto University.

The architect believes that Japanese architecture has got to be smaller and more efficient. Like Beijing, New York and London, the cities of Japan face similar housing problems. Smaller designs can be both practical and comfortable, Morita says. Shelf Pod house was a move toward smaller, greener houses, taking into account the need to build more compactly in crowded cities.

The picture above is a bird’s-eye view of a model of Morita’s Pentagonal House built in Tsushima City, near Nagoya.


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America