karaoke and snack bar box at japanese art festival reinvigorates rural communities, by kousou + graph

karaoke and snack bar box at japanese art festival reinvigorates rural communities, by kousou + graph

the echigo-tsumari art field is a festival held every three years amidst the picturesque mountains and rice fields of niigata prefecture in central japan. its mission is to highlight the rich tangible and intangible resources of the japanese countryside through the lens of contemporary art. by framing the rural region as an essential counterbalance to the city, the festival aims to reinvigorate dwindling rural communities. kousou and graph sought to create a place where spontaneous and honest interaction would occur; where people could become fast friends and learn about each other. to achieve this, they have designed a soundproof box with velvet cushions featuring karaoke and snack bar.

red helped the cube to standout against the concrete surroundings



the shimmering velvet, plush furniture, glossy surfaces and dim lighting create an atmosphere of opulence. pompous at times, it nevertheless creates a feeling of comfort and freedom. snack bars rarely have more than a sign for a facade — the contrast between the dull outside and luxurious inside is part of the overall experience. however, given the limited area, kousou and graph needed to utilize every surface in order to engage curiosity.

the changes in the intensity and angle of natural light made the seemingly flat envelope dynamic and gave it depth



the designers tried to recreate the cozy yet flashy interior of the snack bar, and without giving away too much they aimed for the saturated color to seep out. there was no space for the symbolic luxurious plush furniture, so they decided to incorporate its aesthetics into the façade, simultaneously engaging with the sound.

Modularity of the envelope



appropriate sound insulation and acoustics were vital both for the experience of the patrons, and the passersby. while the polycarbonate was allowing a glimpse of the interior finish, red velvet, glass wool, and particleboard panels controlled sound reverberation and absorption.

being almost completely opaque (except for a single transparent panel) panel the cube provoked curiosity


the local mama-san greeting visitors


being used as intended


a snack bar is a family-friendly venue


no age limit for singing, but more incentives are needed


depending on the light the facade could look flat or three dimensional


through the edges of the cube, the silhouette of the shape inside can be perceived clearly


assembly, materials, and function diagrams


velvet cushion wall panel


project info:


location: tokamachi, niigata, japan

design: kousou inc. + graph co. ltd.

completion year: 2018

area: 7.45 sqm

lead architects: yoshiyuki kawazoe, svetlin petrov

collaborators: issei kitagawa, yuzo murabe

photography: svetlin petrov


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.


edited by: maria erman | designboom

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