co+labo radovic: the barn house in hokkaido co+labo radovic: the barn house in hokkaido
jan 14, 2013

co+labo radovic: the barn house in hokkaido

‘the barn house’ by co+labo radovic, hokkaido, japanall images courtesy of co+labo



the barn house project was developed from the winning scheme at an international design competition “the next generation sustainable house”in taiki-cho, hokkaido in april 2012. the participants were the teams from tshingua university, academy of art, columbia university, mit,aa school of architecture, aalto university, technische universität münchen, politecnico di milano, eth zürich, universitetet i oslo. tohokuuniversity and the winning team, keio university’s architecture and urban design laboratory co+labo radović. LIXIL company, the organizer of thecompetition, provided a generous award, the construction of the best project which was opened on the 17th of november, 2012.


the barn house was designed to accommodate two researchers of the cold hokkaido climate. it reaches beyond obvious practices for extremely coldclimates (i.e. passive solar design), which in the 21st century need to become a non-negotiable standard, by proposing the lifestyle which meaningfullyintertwines with broader rhythms of nature. the emblematic animal of taiki-cho is a horse. the place remembers horses, it still possesses the sensibilityand cherishes the glory associated with the breeding of the racing champions. our architecture wants to connect with the totality of that particular placeby capturing and extending those memories, by redefining the role of horses to meaningfully fit the needs of the present day, therefore it is co-inhabitedby two humans and two horses. it stands against what we are often told and proves that horses, and by extension, nature are never dirty. the barn housereaffirms that we humans are part of that same nature, and the presence of horses thus relates directly to our own humanness. each morning, theresearchers living in the barn house will be woken up by the sounds of awakening nature, and from each of rooms they will witness the beauty of thoseamazing animals.



one of the permanent residents



the connection between the horses and human residents, an unavoidable proximity of the radical other, creates the lifestyle which educates, which constantly reminds of our interdependence with, and the importance of the other. in the summer, the horses will roam the memu meadows, again adding their grace to the overall aesthetic appeal of taiki-cho. their presence will never be just symbolic. during the long winters they will be sheltered inside the house. the manure will be used for composting, which will provide sufficient energy for heating the interior spaces and for nurturing plants, thus creating one of the eco-cycles that define this house. the material which distinguishes the barn house is charcoal. made of sawdust, the byproduct of local wood-cutting (in which 8% of wood tends to be discarded as sawdust), charcoal gets integrated in building management and food production cycles. by absorbing ammoniac from the horses’ urine, it gets enriched and becomes a potent fertilizer. once the smell is fully absorbed, the charcoal will be exposed to the sun, ventilated and then to be used for heating, paving and melting the snow. a radically redefined relationship between architecture and nature, integration of the barn house management into eco-seasonal cycles add another element to the key quality of this building: aware and active inhabitants.



the barn house in its pristine landscape



the first winter snow



relationship to kengo kuma’s building



during the first snow, winter 2012/13



entry in the snow



(left) living room for researchers(right) tatami room



the space for horses





floor plan / level 0



floor plan / level 1








axonometric diagram



project info:



competition design team: millica muminović, komatsu katsuhito, hashida wataru, shinohara masato, kato yoshiaki, sasamura yoshihiro, with darko and vuk radovićproject architect: komatsu katsuhitodesign development team: komatsu katsuhito, hashida wataru, shinohara masato, kobayashi kosuke, sasamura yoshihiro, kanemaru mayumiconsultants: saikawa takumi, kengo kuma architecture associates, sano satoshi, eureka architects and co+labo


co+labo Radović expresses heartfelt thanks to LIXIL, for their generous support throughout the project



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

  • The naivety of this project laughable. Combining human and livestock living quarters is not a new idea and yes there are barn typologies which have done so for centuries, but this model smacks of impracticality and typical designer’s lack of tangible/participatory knowledge. Critique on failure in practicality may seem trivial, but it can undermine concept:

    Livestock and glass windows??? Livestock made to stand on concrete floors?? Why treat the horse as human? Where is the other-ness/the duality in this?

    Electrical outlets and straw bedding (pictured)??  Sawdust–as the text description states–would be even more hazardous.

    Two tatami room windows into the dark, humid, “earthy” smelling loafing shed spaces, with only one little square one direct to daylight?

    Having to walk a distance of 5-6 meters just so I can dump my pitchfork or scoop of manure into the composter? Where and by what means am I to stir this compost, by the way?  …which IF at all functioning will begin to create all sorts of moisture/condensation problems….  Designers must remember: “passive” systems do not mean “labor-free” or “maintenance-free”.

    Where is the tack-room? I.e. the space to hang my bridle and saddle and store the pales. Where does one take off their feed-dusted and manure-y boots and clothes after tending to these animals which are our ‘radical other(s)’?  

    Oh, it isn’t the researchers that do the work, it’s the animal handlers which will do this for the researcher…?!?  …This presence of a third party thus splitting asunder the quaint human-equine duality upon which the entire concept is based.

    Adele says:
  • This is a step in the right direction. As for the previous comment, it appears the idea of constructive criticism is lost. I like the idea of the concrete floor; easier to keep clean and cut down erosion that could undermine the structure.

    H says:
  • … its a student competition. give it a break.

    MMM says:

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