Shuhei Endo's steel, wood and glass structure, Bubbletecture H, inflates ominously out of the Japanese landscape. The visitor center, built in a valley between Osaka and Hiroshima, was planned in three sections housing a theater/lecture hall, a bookshop/galley and a workshop.
Endo’s design aesthetic throughout his career has focused on numerous experiments with steel and the seemingly limitless possibilities the material has in the built environment. He continually sets out to prove that architecture can possess diversity while simultaneously following the rules of geometry, and Bubbletecture H is certainly not an exception.
Endo has a phenomenal ability to place anything he designs within nature. The visitor center is a structural geometry of bubbles from afar. But close up, the surface appears to mimic the faceted planes on the surface of a diamond. A minimal number of windows prevent this building from glimmering in its valley. Instead, Endo subdued his design with rusted steel and occasional moss surfaces to sit within the surrounding forest – additionally meeting his client’s desire to educate the people living in the Hyogo prefecture, as well as anyone else who visit on global environmental concerns.
Drawn from concepts found in traditional Japanese vernacular architecture, the superstructure was prefabricated from local Japanese cedar. Prefabrication minimizes both economic and environmental impacts – less material to transport shorter distances instantly reduces carbon emissions released from the onset of the project.
And like a cliff temple, the supporting structure clings to the earth only where necessary – the building is over 10,000 square feet in size, but it is connected to only sixteen deeply buried five-foot wide beams – and that’s all that goes in the ground.
The concept for the design of Bubbletecture H thoroughly examines nature’s cyclical systems. Circulation through the three functional sections of the building is apparent in the rational built form connecting these spaces across the landscape. Another set of systems cycle and collect rainwater that falls on the building’s surface and reuse it for irrigation. And perhaps the most significant systemic process, the life cycle of the entire site, has been acknowledged, as green technology oozes from practically every surface. Endo’s exhibition dedicated to environmental studies hopes to heighten people’s awareness in their surroundings – and by raising awareness improved care is imminent for the valley and its environs. - Andrew J Wiener
thecoolhunter.net - Bubbletecture H, Shuhei Endo, Japan