The initial project was an experiment in staging narratives. Each team created its own scenario, sequence and spatial setup to accommodate a short story about two people meeting in various locations around the village. Six teams made six rooms for two. Six love stories related to six places.
Story 1:Hiroshi’s childhood wish of helping a girl he admired climb a tree at the southern edge of the school grounds, so that they could watch the sunset together.
Story 2: On the road in front of the Watermelon Place, a man travelling from another village saves a girl’s life on a very hot day by providing her with cool water and shade. An ‘emergency love nest’ tent structure was made from bamboo, rope and a bedsheet. A sprinkling of cold water was supplied via half-cut bamboo plumbing from the watermelon sink.
Story 3:A magic flying carpet with built-in picnic set can be hoisted off the road by the tree branch above it. It can also be used as a mantrap off the road.
Story 4:A natural shower booth made of bamboo extends to form a small waterfall at the lower edge of the village. It also works as a musical device in the landscape.
Story 5:An elderly man walks with his granddaughter along a familiar path paralleling the hidden course of an underground stream.
Story 6: A line connects a farmhouse in the village with a rice field situated across the valley. A young couple who wish to communicate with each other all through the day construct structures along the line. By drumming on the structures they communicate across the valley, signalling lunch break, afternoon tea and going-home time.
A Roof for 200
The main project of this year was to construct a temporary roof structure to house 200 people during the Maple Tree Festival. Our inspiration came from the Baito Festival that takes place on ∂5 January every year at the neighbouring village of Oshirakura, when the community builds a big igloo out of forestry thinnings and straw left over from the rice harvest. Our aim was to reinvent this winter festival, which has not been held in Koshirakura for several decades now.
The material we decided to use was ‘surplus’ timber – off-cuts from the timber industry and thinned wood from forest maintenance – joined with ropes. Our initial framework was formed of eight nemagari trunks, set out in the middle of the playground in line with the axis that runs from the Azumaya to the Slow Window and the Star-Gazing Platform. (Nemagari come from the lower parts of trees growing on slopes, and are bent from the weight of sliding snow in the winter. They have no commercial value.)
The secondary layer of the structure was composed of off-cut timber from sawmills, mostly end pieces of planks with incomplete rectangular sections, 2 to 5 cm thick. Applying the principle of gridshell structures, we bundled several off-cuts together with ropes and extended them into a series of strips 20 to 30 m long.
The final layer was the skin, which incorporated other types of off-cut timber from the mills, generally around 10 mm thick, 100150 mm wide and between 600 and 1200 mm long. Local farmers often use these off-cuts as temporary shuttering for the rice field irrigation construction.The skin structure was first made into portable components then fixed in place on the secondary structure.
The other team joined in at this point to build a new suspended staircase from the main roof beams, penetrating across the existing timber ceilings and floor. This new staircase provides direct access from the entrance of the gym. A dinner party was held inside the dome on the eve of the festival. A gigantic hand, big red lips and four-metre-long chopsticks made for the costume contest were reused as lanterns inside the dome.