Joshu-Tomioka Station Competition Proposal: Floating Catenary

2011 -


The design competition was for a train station acting as an access point to the historic Tomioka Silk Mill, a World Heritage site. My proposal featured a roof that sits lightly in the surrounding environment and makes a wide range of impressions on the viewer depending on external factors. With a gate-like shape, the roof is an interactive reflector of external environmental phenomena such as light, wind, rain, and sound, changing gradually with the four seasons and over the course of a single day. The surrounding landscape is faintly reflected on the underside of the eaves, and natural light is reflected and diffracted, making its way softly into the interior. Meanwhile, at night the entire underside of the eaves provides indirect lighting that gently illuminates the building’s periphery. The entire roof functions like a gigantic gargoyle, carrying rainwater off to the gables on both sides to be collected and reused (as “reclaimed water.”)
Structurally, the building has a thin shell of Ductal (ultra-high-performance fiber-reinforced concrete), enabling a long span, but light and airy canopy. Use of Ductal, which like brick is a kiln-baked product, is an homage to the timber-framed red-brick Tomioka Silk Mill, while the gabled, column-free structure is an homage to the mill roof’s truss structure. Like a “squid hood” turned on its side and radically elongated, the station building’s form is derived from a stress distribution chart and is dynamically rational. The Ductal building frame is waterproof, and fully maintenance-free even when left raw. Its structure is a marriage of suppleness and strength.

location Tomioka City, Gunma Pref.
principal use station
total floor area 750m2
structure ultra-high-performance fiber-reinforced concrete
1 story