Saturday, December 31, 2011

House of Trough: Jun Igarashi architect



1. Big box – almost a cube
2. Looks inward – exterior windows open into two loft spaces screened off from interior space necessitated by location in a mixed industrial / domestic use neighborhood. These windows are of various sizes, and line up randomly with one another though they all appear to be square, like some of Robert Venturi's windows.* The lofts isolate the interior space from its industrial surroundings and from the cold of northern Japan winters. The lofts echo - by way of a reversal - the more traditional engawa or veranda that is designed to connect the interior with the exterior space of the Japanese house.
3. All white interior
4. Minimal furniture and accessories accentuate the need for technological connections with few other absolutely necessary personal possessions
5. Minimal safety precautions as well – there are extremely minimal railings in stairways, and a thin wire as visual separation of loft from what appears to be a 12-foot drop into the central courtyard or trough of the house.


First, I am inclined to think of this minimalist box as stuck in the minimalist modernism of the first half of the 1970’s decade. However, the minimalist, space with its protective loft/verandas is conducive to the owner’s use of electronic technology for work and play. It provides for never ending change as the owners live, work and play within the space.

Second, I know my Western preoccupation with or need to fill space (horror vacui) leads to the distrust of such an empty living space with its minimal protections against falling. That fear of falling is also acquired from my 21st century American cultural preoccupation with safety, and I can’t help but be reminded of the unforgettable quote from the famous television Elderly Medical Alert commercial, “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up.”

"I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up." *5



Even though it provides for never ending change in views through the space as the owner’s use the Trough, none of the other characteristics of the Metamodern are present. These are; 1) a return to fantasy/viewer as participant dreamer, 2) the architecture somehow inhabits the space between and among and (I suspect) limitless series of oppositions including the Modern, and 3) the structural presence of the organic, and/or abstract form. While “The Trough” provides for the viewers/owners to be the dreamers, it is at the same time anchored visually to the minimalist modernism of the 1970’s, and does not begin to imply the incorporation and variation in and among oppositional styles. Instead, the structure is limited to the thousands of years of traditional geometric architecture. Thus, while I admire, and find so much about this piece of domestic architecture to be interestingly accomplished, “The Trough” cannot be classified as Metamodern.


• I refer to the Lieb House, among others designed by Robert Venturi, moved from Barnegat Light, N.J., to Glen Cove, N.Y., March 13, 2009.
• Igarashi, Jun, Architects, Architecture Daily Website,, viewed 7:46 PM., EST, December 21, 2011.
• “House of Trough,” Architectural Record, Posted December, 2011, viewed 5:22 PM., EST, December 21, 2011.
•4 Miyamoto, Selya, Photographer, in “House of Trough,” Architectural Record, Posted December, 2011, viewed 5:22 PM., EST, December 21, 2011.
*5 "I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up," Uploaded by Bubbajomama on Dec 17, 2007. Viewed 11:00 AM, EST, Saturday, December 31, 2011.

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