Housing for the Elderly in Yatsushiro, Japan
Situated roughly 20 km outside the industrial town of Yatsushiro on Kyushu, the southernmost of the main islands of Japan, this development provides accommodation for 50 elderly people. The building stands on a reclaimed area of land between the sea and a small fishing village, beyond which thickly wooded hills rise. The only connection between the site and the “mainland” is a wooden bridge over a narrow canal. The structure is 100 metres long and is laid out on two floors. The private, bedroom face is oriented to the village. The communal areas, which give on to outdoor spaces, overlook the sea. The entrance hall extends through the entire width of the building and is accessible from both sides. A large flat roof extends over the whole structure. It is supported by a layer of steel trapezoidal ribbed sheeting, which rests on load-bearing concrete cross-walls and slender steel columns. Over the communal areas, the roof is cut away at various points in the form of broad curves and elliptical openings. In this way, various outdoor zones were created with open patios and areas covered by glass roofs. The light entering the dining hall through the horizontal roof glazing is diffused by suspended polycarbonate hollow cellular panels. In addition to modern materials – steel, concrete, glass and plastics – traditional products such as timber and bamboo were used, and all bedrooms were laid out with rice-straw tatami mats.