Hiroshima-based architect Hiroshi Sambuichi has covered a cultural center in the small Japanese island of Naoshima with a series of strikingly beautiful wooden roofs. Much of the design of the complex is based on traditional Japanese architecture – including the low-rise hipped roofs, which strategically provide fresh air circulation throughout the buildings.
The complex is comprised of multiple buildings that share a series of wooden roofs. The largest roof covers the main volume of the community hall, which is built into a grassy slope. Made out of multi-tonal Japanese cypress or “hinoki,” the massive roof follows the low incline of the landscape. A large triangular opening is carved into its apex, which lets additional fresh air into the interior.
The two roofs cover four buildings underneath, which have multiple indoor and outdoor spaces – another feature that pays homage to traditional Japanese architecture. “A structure that provides protection from rain while allowing breezes to gently pass through, it inherits the principles of the Japanese traditional thatched roof,” said Sambuichi.
Inside, natural materials create a simple and elegant atmosphere. The flooring is made from Hinoki panels, some of the walls are made out of adobe clay, and some rooms have compacted earth flooring made from a leftover solution from a local salt factory.
The complex also has a number of typical Japanese tatami rooms, which were laid out to receive optimal air circulation. “Emulating the traditional layouts found in Naoshima, gardens and verandas are placed at the north and south, so that breezes will pass through the tatami rooms,” said the architect. To further cool the interior spaces in the hot summer months, an innovative system feeds underground water into pipes in the community center’s ceiling.
Photography by Sambuichi Architects