The largest earthquake that hit Japan in March 2011 destroyed many beautiful things. These times of disasters and catastrophes are, however, opportunities as well. They bring us together and break down all the previous barriers. Thanks to an international collaboration a beautiful architecture project has been realized in the Niigata Prefecture, Japan with the supervision of Andrew Burns Architect. The site is located on the island of Honshu, about three hours from Tokyo.
The Austalia House replaces the previous shelter that collapsed in March 2011. It will function as a cultural centre, art gallery, studio, atelier and shelter. There were a number of challenges which the project team had to keep in mind during the construction. One important requirement was making the house resistant to heavy snowfalls. In winter having about 1.5 meter of snow during one day is not rare at all, therefore the roof structure and its steep shape was designed accordingly. The house has three different faces depending on the angle from which you look at it. Boundaries merge into one another: the place is a home, temporary shelter and art object at the same time. The pure and natural materials used inside create a cosy and warm atmosphere. On the other hand, the high ceilings and huge windows makes this structure perfect for art exhibitions.
Australia House is a great example of international cooperation and community service that was supported by the Tokamachi City Government, the Australia-Japan Foundation, International Culture Appreciation and Interchange Society, Inc., the Australian Embassy Tokyo and a number of local residents. This project reminds us to the symbolic phoenix that might change its forms but is immortal in its essence.
Photographs by Brett Boardman