A Note Mountain Lodge at Karuizawa

                  Designed by Junzo Yoshimura 1962 
                         photo by aibo 2 July 2005

  This time aibo 2 sent me the photographs of Mountain Lodge at Karuizawa(1962), which he had taken the other day. To my surprise, these pictures gave me a different impression of the place as compared to the ones which I had previously seen in the architectural magazines. The pictures were taken in fresh angles which were not seen in the architectural magazines.
  First of all, I was absorbed to see the beautiful green of nature. The trees were photographed beautifully in details. The power of the green seemed to increase as my eyes followed all the shots one by one. I take a look at these images on the liquid crystal screen in full 17inch size, which is larger than the pictures seen in the architectural magazines. They are not distorted and it is easy to see.

The next thing that I noticed was the great power of the super wide angle lens which we have been using. The slab which lifted the second floor building had a strong impact. It had been extended far more than I had imagined. The theory of taking photographs for the architectural magazines has been to restrict the perspective and take the shot simply as possible. Usually, they take pictures like a plan, departing from the site as much as possible. However, in this way the impact of this extended slab would not be conveyed to the reader.

  That was why it had a strong impact here.
What was the designer's intention making the first floor area smaller in size and lifting the main floor up, like a house on a tree top ?

  Here, I recalled the concept of abstract nature which had been observed in the roof garden of Villa Savoye, of which I referred to in the previous version. What is the intention of lifting up the first floor which is directly in touch with the soil ?
  The first thing that I noticed was that at times when the windows are open, the amount of sand coming inside would be less on the second floor than on the second floor. I think that the body sense of how it feels to have sands coming inside helps to explain the concept of abstract nature.
    Or, is it the moisture prevention, since the brook is near? Or is it like a comfortable urban house condition, such as leaving the house with only one key ? Or is it that if the first floor was open the privacy would not be protected from the visitors ?

  Now, let's hear what Yoshimura tells about this house.
" When we walk down the utility space on the first floor and step up the stairs, we reach the main floor of this house. As the sliding shutters, glass doors and screen doors are all put
into the shutter case, won't we feel as if we were in outdoor even when we stay inside ? We can see nothing but trees. When I first stepped up the stairs of this mountain lodge after it was completed, I felt that this second floor design was well done.
  I noticed that everyone who reached upstairs would first go near the window side. Don't you feel like floating in the sky when you look at outside from there? " * 1

Here, the architect focused on and enjoyed the relationship with the ariel view of trees from the second floor instead of pursuing the relation with nature directly in touch with soil on the first floor or the Japanese garden in the conventional sense. Precisely, this viewpoint may be a step further to get hold of the concept of abstract nature. That was the new finding this time. Also, this lodge has another stairway to reach the roof and there, we find a balcony space about six tatami mats. This wooden floored space in the air can be called a place of abstract nature, where privacy is secured in high degree. Including this space and the lodge, as a whole, seems to pursue the abstract nature. The relation with nature is not direct but indirect enclosed by it. The wooden terrace on the first floor also has been set high lifted up by the stone wall, which is aimed to be separated from the earth (This terrace on the first floor is not a private space but a stage).

At this point I would like to go on further. I think that the next place where we can find the concept of abstract nature is in the "Courtyard House in Sumiyoshi (1976)" by Tadao Ando. There, the unity of inside and outside was planned. The nature, in the courtyard, is enclosed by walls. The floor is paved and soils have been removed as much as possible. This kind of housing, which is protected from outside but united with nature at the same time, might be the solution, which describes the relation with nature in the modern urban life. The theme is 'privacy', as it is the courtyard protected from outside.

"The Court House in Sumiyoshi" has been taken up for the particularity in setting the corridor as outside. However, Ando has produced repeatedly, in his housing projects, the relation of the courtyard surrounded by walls and the living room. This kind of paved inner yard, which can be called abstruct nature has been created repeatedly by a number of architects after him.. What else can this be but expressing the intention to secure " privacy" in the united space of inside and outside?

  If we look back on the Mountain Lodge at Karuizawa, the sight observed from the living room consisted of a scenery of nature in air cut out and the balcony on the roof had been the place of abstract nature. As a second house, the scale was not as large as that in Villa Savoye. It had still expressed the stage of Japanese concept of nature ( concept of housing united with nature), only with the exception that the relation with nature was secured in the air.

  The concept of abstract nature in Japanese architecture can be said to have started from "My house", designed by Kiyoshi Seike after the war. I would like to refer to this point in the next version.
                               9202005  mirutake

         *1 「小さな森の家 軽井沢山荘物語」吉村順三 建築資料研究社 1996発行

小さな森の家―軽井沢山荘物語 吉村 順三 (著), さとう つねお

軽井沢の山荘 けんちく激写資料室

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