This text is the first part of a comparison between two houses that to the eyes of the western mentality have at the same time something of incomprehensibly and something of attractive crux. Two houses constructed with a difference of thirty years that solve a similar typology, which we might name of “one-family urban”, both in cities of Japan and therefore debtors of the urban and cultural context of that country.
In 1976 Tadao Ando the construction of the Azuma House finished in Sumiyoshi’s dense neighborhood of his natal city Osaka. An opaque prism of concrete occupies the totality of the lot. Inside the rigorous reticle of scars left in the concrete for berenjenos, pins and boards of encofrado, a narrow door stands out centred, only drawn by the shade that is generated in the interior. In strict sense the door does not exist, only a threshold that seems to connect the street with another world.
Constructed between dividing, this one austere front is the only relation of the house with the street and for extension with the city. The interior divides in three equal parts: two closed volumes of two plants and a court on which the previous ones are overturned. In the ground floor there are located a room and a kitchen separated by the court, whereas in the top floor there place the bedrooms that the house has. The central space is the only natural light source of all the stays of the housing.
The whole house is organized in relation to this disclosed unavoidable court. Insurmountable court in the daily life, since in this central space one finds the stairs and the gangplank that allows to accede and to cross from a stay to other one in the top floor. The court solves the vertical and horizontal elements of distribution of the house, places that in our mental schemes are spaces irrenunciablemente interior. On the other hand in the Azuma House these spaces that it is necessary to cross under the rain or feeling the cold of the night while one travels from the kitchen to the bedroom, from the lounge to the bathroom, or from the room of the children to the space of the parents. Unlike the courts or western cloisters in that the tránsitos carry out to cutlery, this space imposes his tyranny on having forced the inhabitants of the house to move in the outdoors.
From a vision funcionalistas European this distribution turns out to be incomprehensible. If the house is an area of protection, a place in which the man hides of the aggressions of the nature, the Azuma House reinterprets this one thought and shelters the man protecting it from the jungle of the city, forcing it to coexist with the natural cycles.
The court of the house is an exterior space, a space in which the rain, the Sun, the cold, the day or the night they become present according to the dictations of the nature, but for against it is an interior space, a private domain short-circuited completely of the urban context. It is this space therefore, an ambiguous space, an interior dominated by the conditions of the exterior.
To summarize this house there would be necessary to explain this building by means of the conditions of this court and reporting the relation of the house with the city. The center of the house, his interior core, is an exterior emptiness, in which the inhabitants of the house relate directly to the nature and to the sky, but not with the exterior that supposes the city of Osaka.
But maybe, though of involuntary form, Peter Zumthor elaborated the best definition of the Azuma House when in his text Atmospheres it was sent to the tension idea between interior and exterior and was affirming:
“Incredible meeting that with the architecture we start a chunk of the terrestrial globe and construct with him a small box. Suddenly, we meet one inside and one out. To be inside, to be out.”
Íñigo García Odiaga . architect
San Sebastián. may 2013