FT Architects were commissioned by Kogakuin University to create two sports buildings for their west Tokyo campus grounds. They were given a demanding design brief for low cost venues that made use of locally sourced timber, and each had to provide 80m² of uninterrupted, ‘columnless’ floor space. As is often the case, this limiting brief lead to some rather creative designs from the architects
Kyudo Archery Range
The roofs of the two sports structures incorporate a form of recursive joinery, with repeated patterns being layered up to span the vast spaces. Seemingly frail timbers, when combined in a complex lattice work, provide the structural integrity required to support the roof of the kyudo archery range.
Thin perpendicular strips of wood brace the vertical ‘pillars’ (each composed of 4 parallel timbers) and slot into the resulting cross-shaped notches to resemble nocked arrows. Whether this symbolism was intentional or not remains unknown to me but there is certainly an elegance in this remarkable ceiling space that reflects the traditions and rituals of kyudo archery.
We have salvaged the purity of traditional Japanese timber composition, simply made up of horizontals and verticals, which has been somewhat disregarded ever since the advent of modernism in Japan.Katsuya Fukushima and Hiroko Tominaga (FT Architects)
The ceiling of the boxing club on the other hand is fittingly more heavy-handed in its approach to spanning the void, opting instead for strength over lightness. While the archery range’s roof was relatively light weight, these bulky timbers obviously all add to the weight that the roof needs to support. However strong bolts and sturdy foundation posts ensure that this tiered ceiling is able to stand up to its own weight. A hell of a lot of wood appears to have been used here, but according to the architects, this locally sourced timber was already classed as defective due to insect damage.
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