How big is the village? Where does it begin and end? The size of the village on the official map must be very different from the size of the landscape created in people’s minds. These landscapes cannot be measured in two dimensions; they occupy the space- and time-scales of the collective memory of the village.
We asked the villagers to identify the points at which the village begins. Some responses were based on childhood memories of the limits beyond which their parents had told them not to stray, whilst others clearly pointed out the mountain ridge from which the entire village can be overlooked. We tried to collect these individual recognitions and memories, and to sort them according to topography and time. The result was a series of maps:a map of lost paths; a map of sounds, a map of the shifting colours of the landscape, a map of childhood memories associated with cherry trees,and many more.These maps were then overlaid upon a map made the previous year.
This year, a local bus route started to serve the village twice a day. When we discussed the construction of a new local artefact, it seemed obvious that there should be a Bus Shelter where both children and grandparents could be protected from heavy snow and wind on winter mornings. Referring to the map made previously, several locations were identified as possible sites. This project presented an opportunity not only to mark the terminus of the bus route but also to create a new entrance to the village.
The structure is a collage of detailed representations of the landscape. The various ground textures were imprinted on clay tablets. The yukigakoi (snow-scattering timber planks), which provide protection during the winter, can be taken down and moved to a site across the road, where they form an open bench from spring to autumn. Another large structure is also detached from the shelter during this time and presents the views and colours of each season as if pictures in a frame.
In its spring position, it frames the colour of the earth as it first emerges from beneath the melting snow. In summer it frames the high point of the spring water. In the winter, contained within the wall of the yukigakoi, it becomes a platform onto which children can climb, allowing them to see the entire village covered in snow.
The angles of the Bus Shelter roof were determined by the angle at which the snow settles. Its transparency allows sunlight into the sheltered space even when it is covered by snow (often to a depth of two to four metres). Each facade is aligned with the autumn sunset, when the sun is at its most intense shade of orange. Sandstone collected from the Shinano river was used for the floor and yukigakoi details.
Through a combination of openness and the intimacy of its interior, the Bus Shelter registers seasonal changes. It reveals the process of its formation, as well as aspects of the landscape. Some details were left to be articulated later; others were intentionally fragile. In both instances the point was to keep the community involved with the space by making it one that requires maintenance.