Locomotive Hills

Locomotive Hills

1. March 2015

Locomotive Hills
2014
Hiroshima

Architects
Keisuke Kawagushi +K2-DESIGN 

Design Principal
Keisuke Kawaguchi

Project Team
Yuhei Ryuno and Shoya Ichihara

Landscape Architect
JT Planning (Junko Yoshida)
Land Deco (Takeshi Hikita)

Flower Designer
Sanae Hiiragi 

Contractor
Kyoei Tenpo

Site Area
943.71 ㎡

Building Area
386.58 ㎡

Total Floor Area
372.11 ㎡

Photo
Toru Kitamura
Takahiro Shimokawa

Designed by Hiroshima-based architecture firm Keisuke Kawaguchi +K2-DESIGN, Locomotive Hills is an adult day service center located partway up a gently sloping, forested hill. The shape of the building itself is patterned on a hill and is designed to continue the thread of green through the city. To come up with the design, the architects reflected on the meaning of abundance from many different perspectives.  Principal Keisuke Kawaguchi told us about how he expressed that concept through architecture, and other aspects of the project.

Aerial view from the west 

Please give us an overview of the project.

The site sits partway up a gently sloping road about ten minutes by car from the city center. Beyond it stretches the smooth, forested ridge of the mountain. The lot is a narrow rectangle running from east to west with houses on the north and south sides. We designed the structure to link with its surroundings and bring green into the city. The roof, rising in a smooth curve from the surrounding environment, is planted mostly with perennials. Staff can pick many kinds of herbs and flowers from the garden and incorporate them into daily life at the center. This feature, though small, is particularly effective in unifying the atmosphere inside and outside the facility. In recent years the demand for more day service centers has led to a proliferation of these facilities all over the country. There is a tendency to eliminate all superfluous features from the designs in order to fit as many of the necessary functions as possible into limited available space and accommodate as many people as possible in the buildings.  In this project, we selected a layout and overall plan that fulfilled the necessary functions yet did not lose sight of the concept of “breathing room.” This margin of breathing room is one kind of spiritual abundance. Spiritual abundance is a hard thing to pin down and express in words, but the answer that we arrived at as architects brought us to the shape of this building. Locomotive Hills refers to a hill that performs various actions or functions. By interpreting the “hill” as part of the landscape, we created a structure that is aesthetically rich as well as functional. 

View of the building from the northwest 
Front view of the building 

What was most important for you during the design process?

Social service facilities should not simply be boxes in the middle of the city, but rather should open themselves to the community surrounding them. We shaped the building itself like a hill and created a place where people could come into direct contact with plants. We strived to make it a place that interacts with the community. 

Front view of the building  
View of the building from the northwest  

What challenges did you face in the project? How did you respond to them?

The biggest challenges of the project were related to making a hill out of wood, including how to build the frame and how to waterproof the portion of the roof with the garden. We used large beams to frame the structure, allowing us to form the hill shape and at the same time to create a large open space inside. By covering the roof with metal sheeting made to keep water off of wooden buildings, we were able to create a bountiful roof garden. 

Front view of the building (night) 
View of the building from the northwest (night) 

What did you learn from this project? What will you take from it to future projects?

We began this projects with doubts about the way in which social service facilities have been designed up till now, and as we moved forward with planning we continued to think about what kind of facility is best suited to our current and future society. In the future I hope to continue designing a wide range of buildings that are not beholden to established conventions. 

Roof garden 

How does this project fit into current architectural trends such as sustainability, social function, or technology? 

By fusing architecture with urban greening, the project seeks to be both a place that is tied to the local community and an answer to concerns about environmental problems. 

Functional training room viewed from the east 
Functional training room viewed from the southeast 

What is the societal role of the architect?

I believe our role is to offer both spiritual and physical abundance to the people who live in the structures we design.  

Layout 
Section 

 
E-mail interview by Yuna Yagi (translated from Japanese by Winifred Bird)  

Locomotive Hills
2014
Hiroshima

Architects
Keisuke Kawagushi +K2-DESIGN 

Design Principal
Keisuke Kawaguchi

Project Team
Yuhei Ryuno and Shoya Ichihara

Landscape Architect
JT Planning (Junko Yoshida)
Land Deco (Takeshi Hikita)

Flower Designer
Sanae Hiiragi 

Contractor
Kyoei Tenpo

Site Area
943.71 ㎡

Building Area
386.58 ㎡

Total Floor Area
372.11 ㎡

Photo
Toru Kitamura
Takahiro Shimokawa

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