Japan-based design firm Tsukagoshi Miyashita Sekkei renovated the facade of a building complex situated in the Minami Azabu district of Tokyo, Japan. The new structure constructed from lumber blocks is a dense grid lattice having two openings along the street. It is widely popular as a Lumber Curtain in the district.
The architect’s vision was to protect the complex from noise, heavy traffic, and the harsh southern sun. The design takes inspiration from old temple architecture where the wrap around curtain conforms to the premise of the temple. Cypress lumber, the material chosen, was used in temple construction while also masking the smell of exhaust gases from the road. Tsukagoshi Miyashita Sekkei chose M6 rods that have been used in conjunction with the cypress lumber to form the facade. Two vertical rods pass through each lumber block to create columns. A horizontal rod connects the columns forming a lattice.
Design and Construction
The design remains the same in front and inside, creating no hierarchical elements. The construction is durable enough to resist wind pressure while allowing adequate sunlight into the building. The shape of the facade is folded at points to reveal the entrance doors. These folds give the screen the appearance of a lumber curtain pulled away. The existing two-story atrium had a glass facade. This atrium gets divided into two atriums of half the size. Further, the glass partition is set back to the edge of the atrium to provide an open space along the street.
The Lumber Curtain creates an intricate atmosphere and protects the side towards Meiji Street from sunlight. The lumbers of 100 mm depth along with the joining rods give a dynamic visual according to the eye direction as one moves close or away from the screen.
The past several years have seen a rise in timber structures popping up all over the world. The advances in the technology of engineered wood as well as glulam have brought together warmth and familiarity of the timber with modernity. This project by Tsukagoshi Miyashita Sekkei illustrates well the multiple facets of using timber blocks.