Hidden behind a bare concrete wall, this Buddhist temple combines modern aesthetics with the traditional architecture of Japan's Edo period. Satoru Hirota Architects refurbished the 17th century shrine, which was destroyed in the second world war and then rebuilt in 1949.
Over 60 years after the Tsunyuji temple was first rebuilt, Tokyo-based Satoru Hirota Architects were commissioned to refurbish the old building and add a few new facilities. They restored the shrine building on the southern side of the dilapidated 580-square-meter site and constructed two new buildings next to it. The smaller one houses the reception hall, while the three-story volume to the northeast contains the ground-floor office and two floors of accommodation for the resident priest.
The architects used a combination of exposed concrete and charred cedar that contrast the wood and rustic roof tiles of the existing structure. Concrete walls and volumes surround the site and differentiate the different areas. The entrance is marked with a rectangular concrete frame. Shirakawa sand fills the surrounding terraces and, together with larger rocks arranged to form informal seating areas, completes the minimalist look and feel of the place.
“It was reborn as a new space for prayer, and as a beloved landmark in the area,” said Hirota. “In the future, we hope it will be loved as a familiar symbol of the region and the surrounding landscape.”