a 'place of belonging': yamazaki kentaro builds breathable senior daycare center in japan

a 'place of belonging': yamazaki kentaro builds breathable senior daycare center in japan

yamazaki kentaro builds senior daycare center in chiba, japan

 

The ‘Long house with an engawa’ is a senior daycare center, designed by Yamazaki Kentaro in Chiba, a city adjacent to Tokyo. The client, Mr. Ishii, is a caretaker who believes in providing normal living conditions to people with serious diseases such as dementia. Thus, the aim of this project was to create an inclusive environment where aging is integrated with everyday life.

 

The site presented unfavorable conditions due to its long and narrow north-south orientation, and building area limitations due to regulations for constructing over cliffs. Despite these challenges, the decision was made to construct a wooden 2.5-ken (4.55 meters) wide veranda-like floor in a straight line. This features a main wooden structure and an open porch that welcomes the community and can be accessed in various ways.

a 'place of belonging': yamazaki kentaro builds breathable senior daycare center in japan
all images by Yamazaki Kentaro

 

 

a gathering space for young and old

 

‘Long house with an engawa’ comprises three primary functions — a ‘café and workshop’ for local residents, a ‘living room’ for the elderly, and a’ tatami room and bath’ that reflect a traditional hanare (detached room). To counterbalance the monumental structure, small walls, and volumes were added, creating scattered, human-scale spaces that are intimate and welcoming.

 

The design team paid meticulous attention to the boundaries between the inserted architectural elements, such as the windows. Therefore, they crafted a serene space by placing a daybed beside the window between the café and terrace, and the dimensions, fittings, and materials were thoughtfully selected to provide people with cozy nooks to rest and create an ‘ikata’ (mode of being in place). This design element allows people to spend time with others, even when they are alone, creating an atmosphere of togetherness and belonging.

a 'place of belonging': yamazaki kentaro builds breathable senior daycare center in japan
the wide veranda-like floor in a straight line welcomes the community

 

 

With the collaboration of local NPOs (non-profit organizations) and Mr. Ishii’s company, the project has transformed into a ‘place of belonging’ for people from all walks of life. The architects sought to form a gathering space that can also serve as a sanctuary for single-parent families in the neighborhood who need help, as well as children who are not attending school. This way, the project becomes a connecting hub, that embraces the elderly, children, and other neighbors, promoting interaction and a communal sense. 

 

To ensure a gradual integration of the facility into the community, local residents were involved in the creation of the garden pond and bamboo fence. The lively workshops provided a glimpse into how people from diverse backgrounds could come together in this space. The architecture, reminiscent of a bridge or temple, serves as a poignant reminder of something valuable that modern Japan may have forgotten. Sitting on the porch, observing people savor their onigiri (rice balls), the sense of community and belonging is palpable.

a 'place of belonging': yamazaki kentaro builds breathable senior daycare center in japan
the bridge-like structure is a reminder of collectiveness and togetherness

yamazaki-kentaro-senior-daycare-center-japan-designboom-21800

a 'place of belonging': yamazaki kentaro builds breathable senior daycare center in japan
bridging the gap between generations

a 'place of belonging': yamazaki kentaro builds breathable senior daycare center in japan
small walls and volumes were inserted to counterbalance the monumental structure

a 'place of belonging': yamazaki kentaro builds breathable senior daycare center in japan
building community through architecture

yamazaki-kentaro-senior-daycare-center-japan-designboom-31800

a 'place of belonging': yamazaki kentaro builds breathable senior daycare center in japan
small nooks and spots were strategically created, exuding a welcoming an intimate atmosphere

a 'place of belonging': yamazaki kentaro builds breathable senior daycare center in japan
thanks to its permeable nature, the limits between in and out are blurred

 

 

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project info:

 

name: Long house with an Engawa

architects: Yamazaki Kentaro Design Workshop

location: Chiba, Japan

year: 2022

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