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Site Analysis
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Responsibility Puzzle
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Bathroom Garden
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Life Behind Minimalist Home

Yuto Fujii

Defects House

The starting point for responding to the exhibition title was to recognise that there are two sides of ‘memory of home’ to consider and reflect on for me - as an inhabitant and as an architect/designer. It was also immediately noted that the word ‘memory’ evokes for an exploration of a territory that can be highly subjective and personal.

The Defects House aims to capture some of the most significant personal memories associated with home that remain in my cognitive storage, and reinstate them into the reality in new forms through provocative and surreal architectural depictions of an imaginary house that are intended to ask questions about our dwelling experiences and the roles of architects in relation to society and cultural context.

Time and experiences from my life journey were crucial elements that influenced the scene settings of the three domestic-scale depictions. Interpretations of memories can become phantasmagorical through time due to the evolving nature of one’s knowledge base and personalities - this phenomena has enabled the images that existed independently in my mind to be reimagined and to be interconnected with each other to create new stories that heavily relate to my life to date. It is also hoped that the visitors, in some instances, will discover connections for themselves or to their previous experiences in various dwelling environments, as some representations may resemble memories that are commonly experienced in everyday living or in architecture practice.

Background

The house I grew up in a suburban residential area of Aichi, Japan, was a new build ‘House Maker’ product. This type of housing is popular amongst the Japanese families and considered a ‘dream’ home for many. These are standard, simple and high performance housing products chosen from a catalogue and are designed for low maintenance, precision and durability.

When I first moved to the UK with my family, the dwelling environment was very different. The semi-detached house in Derby was full of defective elements, with traces of human errors apparent in many of the rooms. Spaces were not so well thought out and functional as the ‘House Maker’ product in Japan, but the sense of ‘imperfection’ made me pay more attention to the architecture in a weird way. Since, I have lived in 6 other places in the UK.

During the 8 years architectural practice experience in Japan and the UK, I have worked in several new build housing projects, which each of them required careful design coordination and consideration to satisfy the identified needs and compliance. We are trained to design out risks and be sensitive to any defects that may occur during and after construction.

Site Analysis

The diagram is an abstract representation of how a typical thought-process inside my head may look like. Through growing up in Japan and the UK, the boundary between the two languages has become blurred in the cognitive map. The brainstorm of ‘Memory of Home’ is congested with phrases written in two sets of characters as the digged out memories and the associated ideas relate to different phases of life where I have gone back and forth between the two countries.

Responsibility Puzzle

In a historical residential street in London, a recently built house is experiencing a few issues. The project involved a demolition of a semi-detached property and providing a new contemporary home for a client who has passion for Japanese culture and design. The bold elevational treatment is reminiscent of the Japanese minimalist housing movement from the noughties, and the striking roofing pattern hints for a reference to the Boro fashion (where its concept focused on the re-use of abandoned old fabrics for composing a beautiful patchwork to be used in cutting edge clothing).

The large white external wall at street level attracts constant graffiti vandalism, and the South-facing large fixed windows present nightmare environment internally in the summer due to excessive solar gain and lack of ventilation. Frequent visits by the Planning and Secured by Design Officers are made as the project have some outstanding conditions to be discharged, despite its completion 6 months ago.

Today, a contractor is on site and is working at height (without scaffolding, as he is a proud and highly skilled specialist who has never had an accident during his career) to fix a water ingress problem caused by the deterioration of the un-tested roofing membrane.

Bathroom Garden

Due to the inadequate waterproofing and poor detailing of the roof, the house suffers from serious leakage. The bathroom floor is incorrectly fitted with carpet and the extract vent is defective. The warm and humid climate has provided a perfect environment for plants and species to grow in.

Mushroom hunting in the mountains is a popular activity in Japan, enjoyed by many families throughout the year. Different types of mushrooms can be found depending on the time of the year. Culturally, the Japanese place great importance in the distinction between the four seasons. In the summer, kids go out to catch beetles and keep them as pets as part of the summer holiday homework.

The house has self-generated an additional private garden space for the residents to take advantages of, which was instigated through defects and incompetent design by the architect. The family has discovered a new way of sustainable living experience, since moving into this house.

Life Behind Minimalist Home

Once the wall finishes are installed to the internal rooms, what happens behind are rarely seen by the residents until they are opened up. The emphasis is on the contractor to competently construct the building by following the construction information and for the designers and other relevant professionals to inspect, to ensure that the house is built to the design.

Each of the habitable rooms, from the internal side, appears to be immaculately detailed as crisp and contemporary minimalist spaces. Within the wall and ceiling voids, characters from the Japanese fairy tales work 24/7 to hold these spaces together, lead by the beautiful Princess Kaguya.

(The Tale of Princess Kaguya is a famous fictional story, where the girl Kaguya-hime was discovered as a baby inside the stalk of a glowing bamboo plant, when an old man cut a section through)

In contrast to the unlivable living room with a large fixed window, the void space is cool and cozy - the characters are happy to inhabit such pleasant environment.

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