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House and Restaurant in Yamaguchi, Japan by Junya Ishigami + Associates

Cs05 junya ishigami house restaurant soil shuttering architectural review 1

Junya Ishigami + Associates carved the shuttering for their house and restaurant’s concrete colums out from the earth to create a cave-like labyrinth below ground level

This case study is part of a longer essay on soil as shuttering – click here to read more

For an architect renowned for his ethereal structures which challenge the limits of architecture and the laws of physics, this cave-like house-cum-restaurant is an unexpected addition to his body of work. While appearing as a straightforward excavation, in fact the first step was to create a moat-like perimeter from which interior spaces emerged and were connected as diggers descended into the trenches to shift and manipulate the earthly matter. A sizeable 450m3 of concrete was poured into the holes in a single day without interruption.

The soil around the resulting curved pillars was removed to reveal the sunken labyrinthine alleys beneath, now the home of both the client as well as his new restaurant. The bulk of earth removed, the last layer leaves its imprint and traces on the outer concrete skin. These internal spaces remain below the ground’s horizontal datum, leaving only a polished screed of light concrete on the site’s surface. Even if labour-intensive processes have never stopped Ishigami before, the madness of this project is intriguing, as is the counterintuitive process. The idea of ‘preserving the underground condition’ as expressed by the architect, feels somewhat naive. Concrete is poured into this delicate ecosystem. Here, lightness is traded for the weight of elephantine legs stomping across the substratum. 

Cs05 junya ishigami house restaurant soil shuttering architectural review

Cs05 junya ishigami house restaurant soil shuttering architectural review

Source: Satoru Emoto / Saruto Photography

Cs05 junya ishigami house restaurant soil shuttering aerial architectural review

Cs05 junya ishigami house restaurant soil shuttering aerial architectural review

Source: Satoru Emoto / Saruto Photography

Cs05junya ishigami house restaurant drawings architectural review

Cs05junya ishigami house restaurant drawings architectural review

Click to download

Lead image: Satoru Emoto / Saruto Photography 

This case study is part of a longer essay on soil as shuttering – click here to read more