Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Amazing House of Bookshelves

by Stephen J. Gertz

The wooden structure at center appears to be a standard residence.

But step inside and it is anything but standard.

The client, living in Moriguchi, Osaka, Japan, owned an extensive collection of books centering upon Islamic history. He wanted a combination private residence-study with maximum capacity for storage and exhibition of his library.  So, in 2006, the Kazuya Morita Architecture Studio of Kyoto designed the Shelf Pod, in essence a house of bookshelves with a bed and bathroom.

Pinch me. Am I dreaming?

"In order to satisfy this demand effectively, we designed a lattice structure made from 25mm thick laminated pine-board which serve as book-shelves. The dimensions of each shelf are as follows: 360mm height, 300mm width and 300mm depth. All of the architectural elements in this space (stairs, windows, desks, chairs, etc) have been designed on the basis of this shelf scale, with the aim of achieving geometrical harmony which is comparable to Islamic Architecture. This innovative structural system affords not only large amount of book storage, but the possibility of flexible floor level which can be delivered from every height of bookshelf. Each space for different activity rise up helically, giving the impression of exploring a wooden jungle gym.

"The original image of this structure is derived from the Japanese woodcraft of Kumiko (lattice). The structural integrity against an earthquake is provided by a panel of plywood board nailed on the shelf. Initially, the horizontal resistant force guaranteed by the panels was examined in a real-scale model. Further to this, an analysis of the whole structure was performed in order to determine the placement of the windows and panels. The inter-locking laminated pine-board was manufactured precisely in advance and assembled on-site. Similarly, the pyramid-shaped roof was assembled on-site, from 12 pieces of prefabricated wooden roof panel. The completed roof has a thickness of only 230mm and sensitively covers the whole space like the dome of a Mosque.

"In addition to its unique structure, the outer wall employs the construction techniques of a traditional Japanese storehouse Dozou. The bamboo net wall foundation layer was attached to the lattice structure and the clay and straw mixture was applied to the foundation by the trowel. Then the red cedar panels forms exterior wall. The interior clay wall was finished with white plaster. These techniques are in accordance with urban fireproofing specifications, as well as maintaining a suitably humid environment for the storage of books."

In a bathroom flush with bookshelves
you'd need Ex-Lax to get me out of there.

 Site : Moriguchi, JAPAN
Design : Kazuya Morita Architecture Studio / Kazuya Morita ,Issei Kawashima.
Structural Engineer : Mitsuda Structural Consultant.

With thanks to Elmar Seibel of Ars Libri Ltd, who led me to Alex Johnson and his wonderful Bookshelf Blog, which led me to  the Kazuya Morita Architecture Studio.

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