iHouse Dormitory, Togane-shi, Chiba-ken, Japan


published in l'Arca International n. 139


iHouse Dormitory, Togane-shi, Chiba-ken, Japan, project: Studio SUMO



Architect’ Firm: Studio SUMO (Design Architect); Architect of Record: Obayashi Corp., Koji Onishi (general manager); Toshimichi Takei (manager); Atsuko Mori (deputy manager); Mao Shigeishi, Hikaru Takei; Design Architect/Interior Designer: Studio SUMO, Sunil Bald, Yolande Daniels (partners in charge); Edward Yujoung Kim, Teo Quintana, Jae-Hyun Kim, Kevin Sani, Yezi Dai, Youngtack Oh, Masahi Takazawa (project team); Architect/Construction Supervision: Obayashi Corp; Lighting Designer: Studio SUMO, Obayashi Corp; Carpets: Tile Carpet GE Series, Toli Corporation; Ceilings: Rockwool Acoustic Board, Daiken Corporation; Glass: Ohyama Glass; Lighting: Panasonic, Daiko, Yamagiwa; Masonry and Stone: Nakamura Sekizai ; Metalworks: Nagaoka Sash Kogyo, Reiho Sangyo, Trust One, Kanedan, Atlas Ark; Structural System: Kaiser Void Slab System/Nihon Kaiser; Walls: Yoshino Gypsum; Windows, Curtainwalls, Doors: Lixil, Bunka Shutter, Nabco Systems, Naigai Technos; Client: Josai University Educational Corp.; Photos: Kawasami Kobayashi (KK) Photograph Office; Kudoh Photography (K)               



As Japan copes with a declining population, universities are trying to attract an increasingly international student body for both long and short-term stays. This dormitory and International Center for approximately 140 international students efficiently houses, educates, and integrates a population that is both culturally and economically diverse through a collection of shared public spaces and rooms that range from singles and doubles with private baths, to rooms sleeping four with shared bathing facilities.



These shared rooms allow Josai International University to offer accommodations for as little as $80/month and are particularly geared towards students of modest means from emerging Asian and Eastern European countries. The building is sited along the main access road to the university on the edge of an expanse of rice fields.



It is comprised of a 9-meter wide dormitory bar that hovers over the International Center that projects out to engage the landscape. The International Center is comprised of a gallery, archive room, and event space in memory of the late Prince Takamado who helped broker the Japan/Korea partnership that hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup.



JIU maintains a close relationship with the Takamado family. One enters the building off the campus road through a void in the bar that separates the two programs on the ground level.



A louvered surface interspersed with projecting balconies masks exterior walkways that serve the dormitory rooms facing out over the rice fields beyond.



This surface is comprised of off-the-shelf aluminum louvers of different dimensions, each cantilevering its maximum allowable extension past a vertical support.



This creates an interwoven texture in both elevation and section. The goal of the louver was to mask the dormitory program and create a unified façade that reflected a singular identity rather than a collection of unit.



The south-facing aluminum tracks the sun over the day, the building going from white, to silver, to orange at sunset.



Behind the louvered façade, multiple sliding glass doors open onto the walkways, recalling the “engawa” space of traditional Japanese houses.



The provision of shared spaces, the walkway, and balcony system expand the living space into the outdoors.