shinto shrine hut in kyoto by kengo kuma shinto shrine hut in kyoto by kengo kuma
feb 01, 2013

shinto shrine hut in kyoto by kengo kuma

‘hojo-an’ by kengo kuma, shimogamo-jinja shrine, kyoto prefecture, japanall images courtesy of kengo kuma



kengo kuma pays homage to renown waka-form poet and author kamono chomei with his contemporary take on a medieval japanese building. the famed literary recluse was said to have built and lived in a three-meter-square hut, dubbed a hojo-an, after renouncing society and taking buddhist vows. after he was passed on for promotion within his family’s shinto shrine, kamono chomei lived in this ‘humble cottage’ for his remaining years outside of the capital. this prototype is said to have been the model for japanese compact housing. kengo kuma re-imagines the hut in contemporary materials while preserving the ancient poetry of the construction methods. working within the scale of a single body and the idea of mobility, cedar bars, held together with magnets, act in floating compression as they sandwich three sheets of ETFE plastic sheathing. the twenty-one total sheets can be rolled up, but their portability does not undermine their strength in accretion. as the soft sheets are combined into a single building system, the walls become rigid and structural.   eight hundred years after kamono chomei began a japanese dwelling tradition, kengo kuma spiritually reclaims the human-scaled house my placing the hojo-an in one of the oldest shinto shrines in japan, shimogamo-jinja. the layers of plastic unassumingly hold their own in the pristine shrine, while from the interior, the material serves to soften the natural surroundings. at night, the hut is beacon and testament to japanese notions of humility and interiority.




the re-imagined hut is sited in one of the most important shinto shrines in japan, shimogamo-jinja



shinto is spiritually centered around connecting the past to the present through ritual and an understanding of kami, a natural or animistic force that mingles with people



a cedar and magnet framework create a sort of tensegrity structure with plastic sheathing



interior views show the plastic sheets working in conjunction with the wood





the hojo-an is a powerful presence when night falls

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