Yasunari Tsukada's Community Centre blends in its residential neighbourhood
Community centres are normally located in the inner parts of town, mingling in with the rest of other public buildings, or are housed by a local school or other cultural institution. When put in an exclusively residential area, however, architects have to take the homely character of the neighbourhood into consideration when deciding on the design principles. When building the Sanjo Hokusei Community Centre in the town of Takamatsu, Japan, architect Yasunari Tsukada opted for a form that, instead of breaking the serene line of family homes with a monumental structure, rather conceals itself in pleasant harmony with its surroundings.
The Centre is shaped after traditional gabled houses, and is clad in modest grey wooden panels. In order to avoid rising an oversized structure, Takamatsu split the Community Centre into two smaller blocks. This simple solution makes the building look smaller than its neighbours, while in square-meters it is definitely larger. The two structures house different functions: the larger one contains the community space, while the smaller is basically a service area including the kitchen, bathroom, and storage facilities.
The two volumes are linked by a narrow glazed, transparent pathway. Windows and openings are used strategically throughout the building: the entrance is a big glass door between the two blocks that helps maintaining an optimum of incoming natural light. On the inner facade, large glass windows are facing the garden courtyard. Openings on the outer walls, however, are much smaller and placed higher in order to preserve the privacy of visitors, and to avoid the neighbours feeling uncomfortable for having to look at some sort of communal seance. With its modest design choices, Tsukada’s Community Centre therefore manages to fulfil its function in a densely populated, residential area.
Photos: Takumi Ota
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