kikuma watanabe inserts shinto shrine into small pocket of niigata city
kikuma watanabe inserts shinto shrine into small pocket of niigata city kikuma watanabe inserts shinto shrine into small pocket of niigata city
apr 25, 2014

kikuma watanabe inserts shinto shrine into small pocket of niigata city

kikuma watanabe inserts shinto shrine into small pocket of niigata city
all images courtesy of kikuma watanabe




the shinto shrine, ‘an air pocket in the city’ project by japanese architect kikuma watanabe of d environmental design system laboratory is dedicated specifically to remembrance and contemplation. positioned in a vacant lot between two highways, the earthbag building was completed as part of the water and land art festival in niigata city, japan. the small structure has a dome-shaped mediation hall that offers a calm space, where one may feel sense of peace and reconnect with the past. this quiet room serves as the main sanctuary and is connected to a smaller shrine at the front by a winding passageway, leading people in from the outside.


exterior view of the shrine showing the grass wall construction



before the bridges that flank each side of the site existed, there were many houses and people – all of which have since disappeared. the city itself is part of a constantly changing landscape, but the patchwork shrine still manages to achieve a spiritual environment, despite the chaos of movement surrounding it.

the north east side is clad using pieces of galvanized iron sheet



‘we are forgetting the memory of the city. eventually, we cannot remember what we are, where we came from, where we are going! in this shrine we can be lost in meditation within the calm space of the main hall. we are able to find ourselves and remember our origin in the dome filled with mother earth.’ says kikuma watanabe.

the entrance has a winding passageway to guide people in


overall view in winter showing the two bridges on either side


roof construction of the front shrine


the entrance way between front shrine and sanctuary


overview of the shrine positioned in the city


site plan





project info:


location: ryuto ohashi bridge, chuo, niigatai, japan
owner: niigata city
year of completion: 2012
architects: kikuma watanabe +d environmental design system laboratory
structural engineer: d environmental design system laboratory
construction: kikuma watanabe + d environmental design system laboratory, kikuma w lab at kochi university of technology, volunteer staffs in niigata city
site area: 2,963.00m2
building area: 36.83m2
total floor area: 36.83m2
structure: earthbag building, steel pipe, composite panel, lumber, grass block for south outside wall, galvanized iron sheet for north outside wall



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

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